Water companies slammed for rising complaints

Severn Trent is replacing miles of old water pipes.

Severn Trent is replacing miles of old water pipes.

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The Consumer Council for Water has voiced concerns over an increase in complaints made by customers against water companies across the north of England.

Today’s report by the consumer watchdog reveals that the region’s four main water suppliers all received more written complaints during 2015/16.

United Utilities experienced the region’s largest increase – up 13.5 per cent.

That is said to be due mainly to the “boil water” alert last year which affected thousabnds of homes across Lancashire after a bug was found in the water supply.

Yorkshire Water (up 11.6 per cent), Northumbrian Water (up 9.2 per cent) and Hartlepool Water (up 2.5 per cent) also failed to plug a rise in complaints.

They were among ten water companies to report an increase, although none of the region’s suppliers feature among the industry’s poorest performers.

Overall the number of complaints across England and Wales fell marginally by 0.5 per cent in 2015/16. The number of telephone calls customers had to make to water companies to resolve issues also fell broadly in line with written complaints.1

Robert Light, Northern Chair for the Consumer Council for Water, said: “It’s disappointing that almost half of the water companies who saw an increase in complaints were based in the north of England.”

“We cannot allow the good progress that most of these companies have made in recent years to be undermined. That’s why we’ll be working closely with each company to help them address the issues this report highlights.”

One of the reasons United Utilities received more complaints was due to a boil water notice, which affected more than 320,000 homes and business in West Lancashire during August 2015. The company took action to safeguard public health after traces of the parasite cryptosporidium were detected in water samples taken from supplies at a treatment works.

Yorkshire Water received the second highest number of sewerage service complaints in England and Wales, after its sewer network struggled to contend with heavy and persistent winter storms.