Britain’s water companies are getting ready to launch a deluge of complaints against Ofwat, after the regulator publishes its final financial demands for the industry over the next five years.
The regulator stunned the industry in July, when it rejected all but three leading suppliers’ business plans for 2020-2025, in a bid to clean up their act.
Ofwat demanded water companies pay their debts faster, become more efficient and treat customers better. It is due to publish its final ruling on Monday.
In response, at least five companies are expected to complain to the Competition and Markets Authority.
Yorkshire, Anglian, Northumbrian, Southern and Thames Water are thought to be facing the toughest hit from the settlement.
It comes after the industry cleared a potential hurdle posed by Labour in last week’s General Election, after the losing party had pledged to renationalise firms.
Investors that control suppliers including Anglian, Yorkshire, Affinity, South East and South Staffs are understood to have complained to the Treasury in October in a bid to head Ofwat’s ruling off at the pass.
They complained to officials that the regulator was reacting too strongly to political pressure.
Nevertheless, they remain on collision course with Ofwat chief executive Jonson Cox, who used to head up Anglian Water and is now ploughing ahead with his attempt to force the industry to put customers first.
The sector has received billions of pounds-worth of investment from around the world since a number of former state-owned firms were privatised throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
However, investors have also overseen a litany of scandals such as sewage spills and water leaks, while taking big dividends, paying minimal corporation tax and piling debt onto companies.