Southern Water to cut 200 jobs in Worthing and Falmer

Southern Water in Worthing Image copyright Google
Image caption Staff at Southern Water's office in Worthing are waiting to learn when their jobs will be transferred

Southern Water is to cut up to 200 jobs as outsourcing giant Capita takes over its customer services.

Staff at the company's offices in Sussex were said to be shocked and angry to learn roles could move to Yorkshire and India.

The company, which has 4.6 million customers, said there was a "full package of support" for those affected.

It said the changes were intended to make the service "fit for the future", while "keeping bills affordable".

The majority of 220 customer service staff at offices in Worthing and Falmer will be transferred to Capita, which has bases in Rotherham and Bangalore, according to the union Unison.

Caroline Fife, of Unison, said staff were "upset, shocked and angry".

She said Southern Water had started a 45-day consultation about the transfer of work, which will begin on 1 August.

"Given the short timescale they want to know what is going to happen, when, and what money they will receive so they can plan their lives," she said.

Southern Water, which recorded a £22.3m drop in profits to £236.6m last year, supplies water and treats wastewater in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The company said it was two years into a "challenging business transformation programme".

"We are making good progress and have delivered our best ever customer service score in the water industry league table."

Last year, water industry regulator Ofwat ranked Southern Water's customer service as third from bottom of the 18 water companies in England and Wales. It was ranked bottom in 2015-16.

Capita, which already runs Southern Water call centres, has signed a £30m five-year deal to handle other roles including billing and customer correspondence.

It said: "By consolidating Southern Water's complaints, collections, social media contact and some back-office services under one roof, we believe we will be able to further enhance customer experience."

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