Southern Water addresses if Worthing job cuts were linked to £126m bill for rebates and fines

Southern Water has addressed if job cuts in its Worthing-based customer services department were linked to a £126million bill of rebates and fines.

Last week, it was revealed by the trade union Unison that around 220 customer service roles at Southern Water would be affected by jobs being transferred to Capita on August 1.

Southern Water's headquarters in Durrington

Southern Water's headquarters in Durrington

Southern Water’s headquarters are in Durrington, Worthing.

On Tuesday, industry regulator Ofwat found that, between 2010 and 2017, some of Southern Water’s waste water treatment sites were manipulated by staff to pass sampling tests they otherwise might have failed.

As a result, Southern Water must pay customers a £123million rebate, as well as receiving a £3million fine - one of the biggest payouts in proportion to the business that Ofwat had ever imposed.

When this news broke, the paper approached Southern Water to ask if this was linked to the jobs being cut. In response, a Southern spokesman said: “To confirm – they are not linked.”

According to Caroline Fife, regional organiser for Unison, around 160 customer service jobs would transfer to Capita’s centres in Rotherham and Bangalore, India, and around 50 jobs would be retained under a new structure.

She said ‘it was clear from what the company said that they have been planning this for at least a year’ and that the contract with Capita was signed the day before telling staff on Wednesday, June 12.

At the time the redundancies were announced, Southern Water said they had ‘delivered our best ever customer service score in the water industry league table’ and that ‘the changes we are making will ensure our customer service remains fit for the future’ while ‘meeting the efficiency challenge set out by Ofwat’.