Defra ‘United Utilities shareholders set to receive £181m  The Mail on Sunday has reported on water company United Utilities’ plans to pay out £181 million dividends to its shareholders days before a hosepipe ban takes effect across North West England. Coverage focusses on the reported failure of water companies to invest in infrastructure with the equivalent of a bath and a half per household, per day wasted through leaking pipes that United Utilities have failed to address. As the heatwave continues, people have been urged to take shorter showers to help conserve water.

A Defra spokesperson said: “The Environment Secretary could not be clearer, he expects the industry to focus less on financial engineering and more on improving engineering in our infrastructure. “That requires the water industry to increase investment to deliver a more resilient network, dealing more promptly with leaks and being better prepared for more extreme weather.”We need a water industry that works for everyone and ensures the best possible value for money for bill payers. “The story also features in The Daily MirrorThe Guardian and the Sun.’

Water Briefing: ‘The water sector has become the focus of ongoing scrutiny and criticism as the current heatwave continues with no sign of any respite. An article in last week’s Sunday Times reported that the combined pensions deficit gap in the retirement funds of 10 companies, including Thames Water, Severn Trent and Wessex Water, had nearly doubled to more than £1.9 billion by March 2017 — up from £1 billion a year earlier. The funds’ total liabilities — the value of the retirement benefits they are committed to pay — had also grown by 24% to £14.4 billion during the same period, according to the newspaper’s analysis.

Criticism of United Utilities is the headline frontpage news of The Daily Mirror newspaper which has published a scathing article entitled ‘Bled dry by greedy bosses – fury as water fatcats pay £180m to shareholders instead of plugging leaks.’

The lengthy article says the £180 million dividend payout comes as seven million United Utilities customers across the North West of England face restrictions on the water they use in their homes from 5th August.’ Click here to read more

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