Welsh customers get £32m dividend

Welsh Water reported sub-inflation price rises for its seventh consecutive year while committing £32m to customer benefits including greater funding of social tariffs and dealing with areas where supply problems persist.

The £32m customer "dividend" arose from Welsh Water's not-for-profit business model. The company reported a 20% fall in operating income to £ 161m for the year to 31 March 2016 with operating costs remaining all-but flat year on year at £297m.

Underlying profit before tax was off just over £4m to £73m. Excluding adjustments to underlying pre tax income for depreciation on revalued assets to it to £17.7m.

“Customers have indicated that they want to see us strike the right balance between keeping bills low today, improving performance where it isn’t to the standard they expect, and investing now to cut the cost for future customers.

The additional £32 million of funding announced today will help us strike that balance and our research shows that customers support this package by four to one," said Welsh Water’s chief executive, Chris Jones.

Jones said the company was set to poll its customers during the summer on how future surpluses might be deployed.

Gearing was down three percentage points to 57% with capital expenditure down £100m on the previous year at £279m. The company has embarked on a £1.7bn capital programme for 2015-2020.