Southern Water is fined £20m for lying over targets

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Ofwat has slapped a record £20.3m fine on Southern Water after the company admitted to lying about hitting customer service targets to win more generous rate rises from the regulator.

The provider of water and sewage services to Kent, Sussex and the Isle of Wight is the latest company in the sector to fall foul of the regulator. In September, Ofwat fined Thames Water, London's water supplier, £12.5m for providing insufficient customer service and for misreporting regulatory information. Severn Trent is also in line for an as yet undisclosed penalty for a similar failure to meet minimum customer service thresholds.

Southern Water's chief executive Les Dawson was contrite about the fine and said the company would not fight it, as Thames Water has chosen to do. He said: "I understand Ofwat's intention to fine us for what happened in the past."

Southern Water was sold by Royal Bank of Scotland last month for £4.2bn to a con-sortium led by JP Morgan, which outbid at least two rival con-sortia.