Thames Water bosses give up their bonuses after storm over sewage leaks

Thames Water chief executive Sarah Bentley in the super sewer at Wapping (Thames Water)
Thames Water chief executive Sarah Bentley in the super sewer at Wapping (Thames Water)

The two top bosses of Thames Water are to give up their bonuses for the last financial year following criticism of its record on sewage discharges into rivers and fixing leaks.

Chief executive Sarah Bentley and chief financial officer Alastair Cochran said it “doesn’t feel right” to accept performance-related payments. In the previous year, Ms Bentley received £496,000 in remuneration linked to performance on top of the base pay of £750,000. Mr Cochran was awarded £298,000 in addition to his salary of £450,000.

Ms Bentley said: “We are a relatively new team executing an eight-year turnaround plan to transform Thames Water and we have taken some important steps forward this year. I am proud of the work my team is doing in starting to address the poor state of our asset base and unacceptable standards of service for our customers.

“Nevertheless, the turnaround plan is not yet where I want it to be primarily due to significant headwinds from extraordinary energy costs, coupled with two severe weather events.

“These have hit our customer and environmental performance. Against this backdrop it simply doesn’t feel right to take my bonus this year.”

Thames Water is in the second year of its eight-year plan to fix its ageing and deteriorating infrastructure, including a £1.6 billion programme to modernise sewage networks and treatment plants.

Analysis by the Financial Times showed that Britain’s privatised water and sewage companies paid £1.4 billion in dividends in 2022, up from £540 million the previous year.