Shropshire Star

Severn Trent boss' huge pay packet revealed despite pollution and sewer flooding spikes

The boss of embattled water company Severn Trent received a £3.18 million pay packet for the last financial year, despite a spike in pollution incidents and flooding from its sewers during the same period.


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Chief executive Liv Garfield's pay deal for the year to March 31 included a salary of £799,000, plus £584,000 in annual bonuses. The rest was made up of long-term bonuses, pension and benefit payments, according to Severn Trent's annual report published on Tuesday.

Her pay packet was down slightly from £3.21 million for the previous financial year, which she recently defended.

Ms Garfield has been paid about £15.8 million in the last five years as Severn Trent CEO, according to the company's annual reports.

It comes as water pollution incidents rose to 239 for the year ending March 31, up 24 per cent on the year before, the company said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, customers suffered 6,721 external sewer flooding incidents - when pipes flood people's gardens, driveways and external buildings - a greater than 25 per cent annual increase.

The amount of water that leaked from Severn Trent's network per day fell slightly to 398 megalitres - or millions of litres - per day.

The figure, down from 405 megalitres per day last year, is measured on a rolling three-year average. One megalitre is about 40 per cent of an Olympic size swimming pool.

A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: "Delivering for our customers, our communities and the environment underpins our approach to remuneration.

Liv Garfield

"Just under three quarters of executive pay is directly linked to performance, with stretching targets in place."

In Severn Trent's annual report, Garfield said the company's performance on pollution was "disappointing", but added that the last year's unusually wet weather "undoubtedly contributed".

The water industry at large has been met with outrage in recent years over its dire record on leaks and sewage spills.

According to the Environment Agency, Severn Trent was responsible for more than 60,000 sewage spills from its storm overflows in 2023. The spill events lasted for more than 440,000 hours - equivalent to about 50 years.

Spills from storm overflows are a separate measurement to Severn Trent's "pollution events" metric.

As part of an effort to tackle the issue, Severn Trent said in May that it will spend £450 million by late 2024 to early 2025 on reducing sewage spills.

The money is going to a range of storm overflow solutions across 900 locations in the Midlands, the region it serves.

However, the water company has also asked regulators for permission to hike bills by 35.7 per cent over the next five years.

In its five-year plan submitted to Ofwat, Severn Trent wants to raise customer bills to £546 by 2030, from an average of £403 between 2020 and 2025. The increase is designed to pay for £12.9 billion of investment in its infrastructure.

Severn also hiked its dividend to shareholders by 9 per cent this year, to 70.1p per share, while last year's profit rose to £201.3 million.

Last year, the company was the only water firm awarded a four-star rating by the Environment Agency for its environmental performance.

The EA's annual report, released in July ranks suppliers' environmental performance from one to four stars, with four being the highest. Severn said it expects to retain its rating.

Severn received 7,696 complaints about the taste, smell and appearance of its water, a 3 per cent uptick, while it fell from ninth to 11th on an industry rank of customer experience.