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  • by Trevor Loveday

Wessex wage bill and finance costs clip earnings before tax by 11%

Wessex Water has reported underlying profit before tax down 11% to £134.7m on revenue up £7m to £547.7m for the year to 31 March 2019.

A prior period reduction in pension costs arising from a shift in inflation measurement from retail pice index basis to consumer price index in 2018 created an exceptional gain of £30.9m cutting operating costs to £273m.

Before the exception item total operating expenses for 2019 were up £13.4m to £319.3m leaving operating profits down year-on-year by £6.3m to £228.4m. Wages and salaries up 9% from 2018 to 96.5m.

Financing expenses were up in the report year by £10.3m at £93.7m.

In his report statement, Wessex managing director, Andy Pymer (pictured), addressed, at least tangentially, political criticism of the sector’s ownership insisting Wessex had “always been structured and financed in a simple and transparent way,” adding: “Our gearing will continue at under 70% and we will continue to maintain a straightforward corporate structure. We paid our taxes, contributing more than £60m last year in corporation tax, business rates and other taxes and are classed by HMRC as low risk.”

Meanwhile In his statement, the company chairman, Dr Francis Yeoh CBE, addressed the private ownership issue direct: “Renationalising the water industry will not lead to great savings or radical improvements to

quality or service. Our quality is already among the best in the world,” he wrote.

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