Friday, September 28, 2007

Government screws Thames Water customers for £12.5m

The BBC has just published an interesting bit of "Breaking News" saying "Ofwat to fine Thames Water £12m". The report says
Thames Water is facing a fine of more than £12m for "inadequate" reporting and customer service. Water services watchdog Ofwat said it was fining the firm £11.1m for failing to provide "robust information". A further £1.4m penalty is being imposed as poor processes and systems meant users received poor service and missed payments they were entitled to. Thames has pledged to challenge the fine saying it will divert money from repairs, meaning customers lose out.
Why would Thames Water say such a thing you may wonder? Well that would be, as Croydonian has pointed out and the BBC hasn't, the Notes to Editor in the press release from Ofwat states,
"Penalties are paid into the Consolidated Fund and are not returned to customers".
That would be this Consolidated Fund which is basically the Government's bank account and can be spent on whatever it wants. As Croydonian points out,
"Having been wronged by Thames Water, instead of compensation being made to the users, the entire tax payer base gets a minor benefit by way of the State having 12.5 very large to play around with which it will not have to find elsewhere."
Can't say I disagree. Basically we the customers of Thames Water have just been screwed by the Government as the company that has given us poor service has had a massive sum of money taken away from it that it could have spent on improving service, and we're all supposed to be happy about this?

Update: Just to be clear, I'm not saying Thames Water don't deserve to be chastised. But any fine should be paid back into improving service, not swallowed up to fill the Government's financial black holes.


Anoneumouse said...

This could easily be resolved by taking the money from what Thames water would have issued as a dividend to its share holders.

ScotsToryB said...

Surely this would be written off against tax in the accounts?

So, Tim's right but the company does not lose out.