Jeremy Hunt says he’s ‘very cross’ at Thames water asking for bill payers to ‘bail them out’ with bill rises

22 May 2024, 09:05

Jeremy Hunt said he's "very cross at them asking to be bailed out" by bill payers
Jeremy Hunt said he's "very cross at them asking to be bailed out" by bill payers. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Jeremy Hunt told LBC this morning that he is ‘very cross’ at Thames Water.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Asked about the rising cost of people’s water bills and the looming rescue of Thames Water, Jeremy Hunt told Nick Ferrari: “I represent constituents who have been very badly served by Thames Water.

“I’m very cross at them asking to be bailed out by them with big increases in their water bills when their owners have ramped up debt in the company that has put them in a very bad state.

“What is very clear is that we need to invest more going forward.

Jeremy Hunt is 'very cross' at Thames Water

“Water companies will be spending £99bn in operating expenditure over the next five years.

“We’ve banned water company bosses from taking bonuses if their record on sewage leaks is too bad.

“We’ve said all the money from fines is going to back into cleaning up rivers.”

He said Ofwat will “not want to reward companies that have behaved badly.”

Read more: UK inflation falls to 2.3% in April but Jeremy Hunt warns 'cost of living crisis not over'

Read more: Bailiff usage soars by nearly 50% as council debt blackhole hits £2.4bn, figures show

Last week Thames Water’s biggest investor slashed the value of its stake in the company to zero in the latest sign of an escalating financial crisis for Britain’s biggest water supplier.

Canadian pension fund Omers issued a “full writedown” of its 31.7% stake in Thames’s troubled parent company, signalling that it believes its share is worth nothing.

Weeks ago Omers and the company’s other shareholders refused to give Thames Water £500m of emergency funding after branding its business plan “uninvestable.”

Other Thames shareholders include the British university staff pension scheme USS and the BT Pension Scheme manager Hermes. None have taken a dividend from Thames since they bought into the business in 2017.

Thames Water is racing to avoid a multi-billion pound taxpayer backed bailout.

The firm could have to be placed into special administration which would mean the government stepping in and temporarily renationalising the company.

Water regulator Ofwat is reportedly working on rescue plans for Thames that could lead to the water company’s regional monopoly being dismantled and sold off to neighbouring rival suppliers.

An Ofwat spokesperson said: “Safeguards are in place to ensure that services to customers are protected, regardless of issues faced by the shareholders.”

Last month Thames Water’s boss said bills need to rise by 40% by 2030 to pay for improvements.

Chris Weston insisted the firm was "quite a long way off" from nationalisation and "a lot that has to happen" beforehand.

However, he said it was "eventually possible".

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich waves and smiles as he stands in a glass cage in a courtroom at the First Appeals Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow, Russia, on April 23 2024

US reporter Evan Gershkovich, held in Russia on espionage charges, to face trial

This image provided by Tamatha Bibbo, principal of the Pollard Middle School in Needham, Massachusetts, shows 23 sets of twins who graduated from Pollard Middle School

Double take: 23 sets of twins graduate from single Massachusetts middle school

Elephant Bubi kicks the ball towards the goal in Starkenberg, Germany

Bubi the elephant predicts Germany to win Euro 2024 opener against Scotland

Exclusive
Keir Starmer has called on the Europe to look again at new passport rules being introduced for EU travel.

Keir Starmer calls on Europe to look again at new passport rules being introduced for EU travel

Russia’s Kazan nuclear-powered submarine arrives at the port of Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday

US submarine pulls into Guantanamo Bay day after Russian warships arrive in Cuba

Wayne Lineker has shared an update with fans

Wayne Lineker says he's 'doing ok' after being knocked out by single punch after protecting woman from being harassed

The 'Happy Days' actor shared a grinning selfie with Dublin Fire Brigade

Happy Days for The Fonz: Henry Winkler thanks firefighters after blaze at Dublin hotel

Rishi Sunak with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni

Rishi Sunak receives warm welcome at G7 summit as he reunites with Italian PM

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walks past various international flags on arrival at the G7 in Borgo Egnazia, Italy

How will move to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets work?

Prince Andrew has a 'secret weapon' amid his ongoing Royal Lodge row with King Charles.

Prince Andrew may deploy ‘secret weapon’ amid ongoing standoff over Royal Lodge home with King Charles

Yazmin Oukhellou, Scott Timlin and Eva Zapico arriving at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Love Island and Towie stars appear in court accused of promoting dodgy investments on Instagram

Taylor Swift's fans set off earthquake monitors in Edinburgh.

‘Shaking it off the charts’: Taylor Swift fans set off earthquake monitors on first UK nights of singer's Eras Tour

G7 leaders at the summit in southern Italy

G7 summit opens with deal to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine

‘She’s not sorry and is still on the run’: Harry Dunn’s mum slams his US diplomat killer Anne Sacoolas as inquest rules

‘She’s continuing to run': Harry Dunn’s mum slams 'despicable' US diplomat killer Anne Sacoolas as inquest concludes

Alan won eight League titles and three European Cups with Liverpool

Liverpool issue heartfelt birthday message to Alan Hansen after he was taken 'seriously ill'

A tourist fans a companion in front of the the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens

Heatwave forces Greek authorities to shut Acropolis in afternoon for second day