South West Water boss drops bonus for second year in a row

By Jonathan Morris & PA MediaBBC News, South West

House of Commons Susan DavyHouse of Commons

South West Water boss Susan Davy has dropped her bonus for the second year running

The chief executive of South West Water’s (SWW) parent company has forgone her annual performance bonus for the second year in a row.

It comes amid anger over the company’s response to the parasite outbreak in Devon.

Susan Davy, who heads SWW owner Pennon Group, would have been in line for a bonus of £237,000 in 2023-24.

However, the company’s annual report revealed her total pay jumped to £860,000 in 2023-34 from £543,000 the previous year, after she collected a £298,000 shares bonus.

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The source of the parasite cryptosporidium outbreak was traced to a damaged valve

Pennon said in a statement: “We understand the strength of feeling from our customers and the public around the issues facing the water sector.”

In May, about 17,000 customers in Brixham were advised to boil their water after an outbreak of a parasite which causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

About 2,500 properties are still having to boil water in the Hillhead and Alston areas of the town as work continues to clean supply pipes, said SWW.

The source of the parasite cryptosporidium outbreak was traced to a damaged valve casing on the company’s network on private land.

South West Water said it had “identified the source of the contamination and replaced the damaged air valve casing”.

Ms Davy also waived her right to receive a £367,000 bonus in 2022-23, according to Pennon’s annual report.

Her baseline salary of £562,000 in 2023-24 was an increase of 3.5% against the previous year’s salary of £543,000.

Record sewage fine

Pennon said Ms Davy had foregone an annual bonus which would have been worth £237,000 in cash and shares, but still picked up the long-term performance award, worth £298,000, which must be held for two years and reinvested in Pennon stock.

Executives Steve Buck and John Halsall would also not take their annual bonus and outgoing chief financial officer Paul Boote would also not receive the bonus he was eligible for, said Pennon.

In May, Pennon increased its full-year dividend payout to investors by 3.8% despite SWW being fined a record £2.1m for sewage spills.

Pennon said in its annual report that it was changing its annual bonus scheme for top bosses in 2023-24 to ensure pay was linked more heavily to its performance for customers and the environment, now accounting for 60% of the award.

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