Thames Water boss’s potential £2.3m pay faces serious questions

  • Post last modified:March 28, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

Thames Water is – for want of a better phrase – quite literally up shit creek without a paddle. Yet it’s worth remembering that just months ago, it appointed a new CEO, Chris Weston, with a potential £2.3m pay package to boot. This was at a time when Thames Water was also ‘in the proverbial’. So, is this guy really worth it? We think the answer to that is obvious.

Thames Water: completely in the shit – just like our rivers

Debt-plagued Thames Water revealed on Thursday 28 March that it failed to raise a major cash injection from shareholders. Of course, the rogue water company blamed industry regulations that made its rescue plan “uninvestable”.

Britain’s biggest water supplier said in a statement that £500m of new equity will “not be provided by Thames Water’s shareholders” this month.

The company added it was in “ongoing” talks with industry regulator Ofwat over a plan that is:

affordable for customers, deliverable and financeable for Thames Water, as well as investible for equity investors.

Staggeringly, the cash represented most of a £750-million funding lifeline that had been previously agreed with investors last July to stay afloat. This is on top of Thames Water being saddled with debts of almost £15bn that have placed it at risk of nationalisation.

Ofwat had refused to bow to Thames Water’s demands for concessions. These included a 40% jump in water bills that would worsen the ongoing cost-of-living crisis for people.

Yet still, Thames Water’s CEO Chris Weston went on live TV and stated that the company MIGHT still increase people’s bills by 40% – while it paid out tens of millions to shareholders less than six months ago:

Of course, it’s easy for Weston to talk about a 40% bill increase – as he’s earning a killing off the rest of our cost of living misery.

Another day, another boss bleeding us dry

As the Guardian reported just in December:

Thames Water has appointed a former British Gas executive [Weston] as its new boss with a pay package of up to £2.3m a year and a brief to turn around the heavily indebted utility.

The devil is of course in the detail. So, as the Guardian noted:

Thames Water is handing its new boss an annual salary worth £850,000, on top of £102,000 in yearly pension payments, and a £15,000 car allowance. He is also eligible for an annual bonus worth up to 156% of his salary – or £1.3m – that could swell his total pay to £2.3m.

Even if this guy doesn’t get a bonus, he’s still being nearly one million pounds for essentially failing at running a business and offloading the ensuing misery onto the public. If this sounds familiar, it is – because just this week another CEO was under fire for his pay.

As the Canary previously posted on X just over 24 hours before the news about Thames Water broke:

Thames Water: shitting on us from the highest of heights

All this is on top of Thames Water facing fierce criticism over missing leaks and sewage discharge targets. This is despite major infrastructure investment.

A record number of storm drains overflowed with sewage last year in England. This angered campaigners wanting cleaner rivers and seas. Environmentalists have increasingly voiced outrage at the rise in pollution on the UK’s beaches and waterways. They have pointed the finger at privatised water companies.

Finally, in a COMPLETELY UNRELATED (ahem) development on 28 March, researchers have revealed that high levels of E.coli, a bacteria found in human waste, have been found in a stretch of London’s River Thames that will feature in this weekend’s Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

The bacteria was discovered in water near the Hammersmith Bridge in west London, according to testing conducted by anti-pollution campaign group River Action and the Fulham Reach Boat Club.

And yes, you guessed it – this is Thames Water’s fault as well.

So, if you fancy getting a million quid a year for:

a) ripping off poor people,

b) catastrophically mismanaging a company, and

c) potentially poisoning competitors in one of the world’s most famous sporting events

then why not apply to be Thames Water’s CEO? Because it’s looking increasingly likely Weston will be out of a job pretty soon.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

Featured image via the Canary

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