back to article Taps running dry for Capita? Southern Water pens 5-year managed service

The water wells across parts of England* may be running dry but Southern Water has kept the taps running on its long running managed service deal with Capita, extending the contacts initially by five years for £30m. The renewal was confirmed to the London Stock Exchange today by shape shifting Capita, a company that lost £515m …

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  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    "Capita’s expertise in transforming customer experience across all channels. "

    Well, that's one way to put it, I suppose.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Capita’s expertise in transforming customer experience across all channels. "

      Yep, I was just about to point out that it didn't say improving...

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: "Capita’s expertise in transforming customer experience across all channels. "

        Yep, I was just about to point out that it didn't say improving...

        I am reminded of the Ministry of Alterations "We, Change people from being alive people to being dead people" from the Red Dwarf - Back to Reality.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    back office billing processes, correspondence handling and pint and mail

    Pint and mail? Any chance I can get a job working in the post room if you're allowed to drink on the job?

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Pint

      If it's the daily mail I'd need something stiffer than a pint...

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Given the number of ex Tory staffers at the Daily Maul I might consider rephrasing that one. "something stiffer" might indeed bring tears to your eyes.

        As they say at the Mail on Sunday: "Don't drop the soap and bend over in the shower".

      2. Sam Therapy

        Ooh, matron!

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    WTF?

    How do they do it?

    Disaster after disaster, yet still they get huge contracts.

    I've had to fight for work. What was I doing wrong?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: How do they do it?

      Not being a ginormous self-aware globocorp from some nightmare dystopian future, sent back in time to make sure it is created?

      I call it the Crapinator.

      1. annodomini2 Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: How do they do it?

        "Not being a ginormous self-aware globocorp from some nightmare dystopian future, sent back in time to make sure it is created?

        I call it the Crapinator."

        See icon-->

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: How do they do it?

      You need a very large supply of these

      https://www.viking-direct.co.uk/a/bb/Envelopes/Brown-Business-Envelopes/Viking/N=2+1288990&cbxRefine=300901/

    3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: How do they do it?

      "I've had to fight for work. What was I doing wrong?"

      a) Doing it right the first time, or fixing it the first time it went wrong. Terrible mistake made by many SMEs :)

      b) Ensuring they get charged 10x the cost, but spread out in a way that best suits their tax arrangements.

      c) Making sure enough of that rakage gets siphoned back into paying non-exec directors for 5 days work a year after they retire from their previous jobs of awarding you contracts

      d) Having ethics, morals and/or a soul. Again, terrible mistake made by otherwise fabulous SMEs :D

  4. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Missing the obvious

    " England specifically is facing a water supply shortage by 2050 without a plan to curb water usage and wastage"

    Well, duh, then actually build some more capacity, instead of sweating the existing reservoir stock to supply more people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the obvious

      That requires thought which is in very short supply in all infrastructure companies board rooms - example , the continuing use of Crapita in this instance.

      1. Giovani Tapini

        Re: Missing the obvious

        Also means looking at, for example, why most new houses and other water consuming business are built in the south of England particularly, and indeed the additional loss of groundwater caused by buildings and paved areas not percolating into the ground.

        I am sure England will look like the opening scene from Blade Runner before anyone will really care about the Countryside.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Missing the obvious

          I read an article recently on the effect of fracking on the water supply. It could potentially contaminate water used in the fracking process due to the chemicals it's mixed with - and it uses a lot of water. I don't profess to be an expert but I haven't read much if any positive articles about fracking except by the companies trying to make money out of it.

          We gain a gas supply but lose a water supply and cause earth quakes.

        2. Chronos Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Missing the obvious

          I am sure England will look like the opening scene from Blade Runner before anyone will really care about the Countryside.

          I was under the impression that "countryside" was one of the long list of reasons to find yet another new Crapita CEO.

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Missing the obvious

      Well, duh, then actually build some more capacity, instead of sweating the existing reservoir stock to supply more people.

      Or, you know, fix the leaks. I was reading somewhere (I'm tired - go and look for yourself...) that in England and Wales the water supply pipes leak about a bathful of water per day for each household. Get that squared up and the supply would be in rude health for the extra demand. At least for a decent interval...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing the obvious

        It is cheaper for the water companies to lose 20% of their product through leaks than it is to fix those leaks - i.e. reducing the water lost would mean lower bonuses for those at the top.

        So its not going to happen.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Missing the obvious

          It is cheaper for the water companies to lose 20% of their product through leaks than it is to fix those leaks

          I know, but the thing is that the leaks won't fix themselves. And new leaks will appear over time. So at what point is it not more profitable to just piss away the drinking water? Besides which, if it costs £10k to fix a leaky pipe that's losing £1k a year, then it will eventually pay for itself and keep paying for itself.

          I'm sure there's logic there. I just don't see it.

          Anyway, apparently my street is being closed next week to repair water pipes. That'll be fun - there's only one way in and out...

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Missing the obvious

            "Besides which, if it costs £10k to fix a leaky pipe that's losing £1k a year,"

            I'm not sure how water ownership rules work in the UK, but the water company will not be paying for all it's supply, as rainfall would be free. The amount they can take from rivers and aquifers is presumably limited and possibly paid for, but at a fixed rate.

            So, broadly speaking, the "cost" of water is a mix of fixed, free and infrastructure for collecting, storing and distributing it.

            So a leaky pipe costs the water company almost nothing, as long as enough pressure remains to get it through to paying customers meter. But fixing the pipe does. Replacing the pipe probably costs almost as much as a repair, so from a fiscal perspective it can be leaky as hell but "working", so you run it until it breaks, then you fix it.

            The markup on water is huge*, far more than power or internet (and those can get pretty brutal). Losing half your supply to leaks just means you double the cost to your clients. It's not like they can go anywhere else.

            So you sweat (squeeze? drain?) the assets and avoid capex, and bank the profits. What else can be expected for a private company?

            * the water company around here is originally a Roman organisation that became a government-like agency. It's well run, pretty transparent, low bills for the service and quality, and they are still charging a buck for something that costs them 2-5 cents. At least the rest gets spent on infrastructure.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Missing the obvious

              it can be leaky as hell but "working", so you run it until it breaks, then you fix it

              Unless it happens to be a mains pipe under Station Road, New Barnet sometime in the early 1980's - the water company not only had to pay for the repairs to the pipe (in several places - it was established that they knew all about the big leaks but didn't want the hassle of having to close the road to fix it..) but also the costs for extracting the bus (and repairing it) that had fallen into the large void that the leaking pipe had caused in the clay under the road.

              I've never seen half a bus sticking out of a big hole in the road since..

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Missing the obvious

          Wel, if the people who would benefit from the leaks being fixed would be prepared to pay for their benefit, it would happen fairly quickly.

          1. Claverhouse

            Re: Missing the obvious

            @J.G.Harston

            Wel, if the people who would benefit from the leaks being fixed would be prepared to pay for their benefit, it would happen fairly quickly.

            I am open to correction, but I think most householders and companies already pay for their water supplies --- which is really a compulsory tax since there are bad consequences to going without water permanently: something which escaped the dotty mind of the old loon Thatcher --- and expect utilities to do their jobs without extra one-off donations.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Missing the obvious

      Well, duh, then actually build some more capacity

      It's not that we lack water (this summer aside, have you seen our weather?), it's that we have an infrastructure that was, in a lot of cases, built by engineers a hundred years ago..

      So, as the article says, a huge amount is lost to leaks and wastage. Fixing that lot would negate a lot of the need for new reservoirs.. (besides which, do you happen to have several spare valleys with existing water supplies that can be dammed up to make them? It's not just a case of digging a big pit y'know).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It beggars belief that Britain could ever have a water shortage. It's not like we're a poor arid land-locked country. We're an island surrounded by the stuff and it falls from the sky almost continuously for 9 months of the year.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Most of the rain falls where there aren't that many people living (eg Scotland, Cornwall) and it doesn't rain much in the South East of England etc where most people live. That's not to say that there hasn't been decades of incompetence and shareholder enrichment though.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Most of the rain falls where there aren't that many people living (eg Scotland, Cornwall)

        You left out Wales and N.I - where it rains a lot. Maybe not heavily, but seemingly consistently.

        Don't know about Wales, but N.I water is still on the rates (or was until recently) and with mostly sod all investment (and total lack of any effective Political leadership for decades) if it actually stops raining for any more than a few weeks, the leaky system can't retain much of a reserve.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          WTF?

          NI WTF?

          Must admit Im stumped why there was not more outrage over the NI hosepipe ban. Part of the island of Ireland running out of water is a bit like Saudi Arabia running out of sand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: NI WTF?

            IIRC those in parts of Ireland have wells etc. Does that apply for NI too?

          2. Flywheel Silver badge
            1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

              Re: NI WTF?

              Yeah, but that's a case of having the wrong kind of sand for making concrete. Desert sand makes very crumbly concrete, which is generally pretty bad for building with, and useless for any industrial or multi-story construction.

      2. greenawayr

        Lots of water in Cornwall...

        ...you say, and very few inhabitants. Yet the highest water bills in the country down that way as South West Water customers/prisoners.

        Got to keep all the beaches nice for the emmits to come and trash in the summer.

      3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Most of the rain falls where there aren't that many people living

        It's a damned shame the 300 foot canal never got built.

    2. tfewster Silver badge

      It's particularly ironic that the Rainy City should be the first to get hit by a hosepipe ban. Although we get our water supply from the Lake District. I think Liverpool gets theirs from North Wales, and presumably Leeds/Bradford/Sheffield from the Peak district.

      I seem to recall that the North also supplies the South in times of drought. So water is already treated as a National resource. But you can't expect the regional, privatised water companies to plan nationally, so it's back to the government/Parliament/taxpayers that allowed that situation to develop, for additional capture & storage capacity.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        Happy

        Welsh water

        When I was at UCNW Bangor, there was a sign over one of the loos:

        "Do your best. Birmingham needs the water"

    3. The Oncoming Scorn
      Alert

      Last time I looked at a map, islands are traditionally surrounded by water, even if its full of salt or not.

      It seems a opportune moment to dust off this clip (At long last someones uploaded it) regarding water quality - The Naked Video Heavy Water Sketch.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm-xOqIKdwA

  6. verno

    and it expects to “improve customer experience

    They havn't read the news recently then?

  7. getHandle

    Capita’s expertise in transforming customer experience

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha <breathe> hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Capita’s expertise in transforming customer experience

      Don't laugh.

      I'm just working on transforming this curry into something Crapita would be proud of....

  8. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Are those rumors about water leaks true?

    I mean I have seen a BBC piece on "Watchdog" about a decade ago. That surely must be fiction, no self-respecting water supplier would ever keep a leak more than a couple of hours.

    I mean there once was a broken pipe in the street were I was living. Around 3am I noticed the water pressure being irregular. When I got up the next morning the leak was already fixed and they were preparing to fill up the hole provisorial. That's how it's supposed to be. It's an emergency situation which needs to be dealt with immediately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Leaks that do not affect pressure

      Are more likely to be ignored.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Are those rumors about water leaks true?

      no self-respecting water supplier would ever keep a leak more than a couple of hours.

      Coincidentally my wife was looking at water leak data this morning(*). The average water company leakage works out at ~120l per household per day. In comparison each person uses on average ~130l/day, which works out at ~310l/household/day. (This is ignoring industrial use.) Thames Water is the worst but a lot of their piping is buried under London, which makes digging it up to fix it a tad difficult. Elsewhere the charges for digging up the road make fixing all but the worst leaks uneconomic. The optimal solution would involve taking a time machine back to Victorian times and changing both legislation and infrastructure engineering.

      (*) Part of one of her many jobs. She's an energy and environmental consultant and also sits on two utility company oversight panels, one a water company.

  9. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Pop quiz: fill in the missing word...

    Lewis previously branded Capita as a "collection of c*****s" inherited by multiple acquisitions over the years.

    1. Solarflare

      A collection of carrots?

    2. Chronos Silver badge

      Cockwombles.

  10. Bart_Fun

    I have to say, of all the suppliers I have to deal with in my (30000+ headcount) organisation, they are one of the better ones...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor Welsh water ...

    I live a few hundred metres from the Frankly reservoir which is never less than full, thanks to the Elan aquaduct and a valley the City of Birmingham bought over a hundred years ago to ensure the cities water supply.

    It's almost like it was possible to plan in the olden days. Thank goodness we put a stop to that. Otherwise we'd have no excitement in our lives. (Although we would have a stable water and power supply).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Southern Water penis 5-year managed service

    What?!?

    Ah. I misread it. My bad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Southern Water penis 5-year managed service

      A penis would be an improvement on crapita - because a penis only cocks it up some of the time.

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