Water bills expected to rise

 Water bills expected to rise

Water bills expected to rise image

Customers will not be made to cover the cost if Thames Water goes bust, the boss of regulator Ofwat has said.

David Black also told the BBC the firm had "some time" to raise the funds it needs to fix it finances.

in debt and could  Thames is billions, in a worst case scenario, be taken over by the government if it cannot turn things around.

Mr. Black denied Ofwat had failed to monitor the firm, but admitted there were "hard lessons to learn".

He added that excessive payouts for chief executives in the water industry had "angered" him.

Thames Water, which supplies a quarter of the UK population, has faced heavy criticism over sewage discharges and leaks and is under pressure to improve its services.

It emerged the firm was struggling to raise the money it needed to service its huge £14bn debt pile But last week .

Pution say sanctions

After just two years on the job. It came after chief executive Sarah Bentley stepped down from the company.

Thames Water boss quits after sewage spills

With other big water companies also carrying high levels of debt, Ofwat has been accused of failing to properly regulate the industry.

But Mr. Black reject this, telling BBC Radio 4's Today program: "Companies need to take responsibility for their own financing structures, we're here to protect customers' interests."

He added that putting the firm into a "special administration regime" - where it would be temporarily re-nationalized - remained a "backstop option" and "we're still a long way from that".

Asked specifically if customers would have to pick up the tab if the investment was not forthcoming, he responded: "No."

Last week Health Minister Neil O'Brien also sought to assuage concerns about the potential impact on customers, but the influential business select committee warned taxpayers could still be hit.

Labor MP Darren Jones told the BBC last week that if the government was forced to take over the running of Thames Water, "taxpayers will be exposed to the debt and running costs of a very large company".

Ofwat says it is still waiting to see how Thames Water plans to fix its finances.

Mr. Black said on Tuesday the Lords' business committee that he believed the company needed to raise "substantial" sums to keep going.

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