COMPLAINTS about a Hampshire water provider have fallen by a third after industry watchdogs told the company to improve its performance.

New figures show a 32% reduction in written complaints from Southern Water customers during the first six months of the 2018/19 financial year, compared to the same period in 2017/18.

The number of telephone calls made to the company by its customers to resolve problems fell by 34%.

But the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has warned Southern Water not to be complacent.

The watchdogs have been monitoring the company’s performance since it was named as the worst performing supplier in England and Wales for the sixth successive year.

The description, based on the number of complaints received by Southern Water, appeared in a CCWater report published last September.

CCWater’s regional chairman, Sir Tony Redmond, pictured right, said: “We are encouraged to see Southern has made significant progress but that now needs to be sustained over a long period. We are cautiously optimistic the company can finally improve its standing in the industry.

“Southern has been asked to provide CCWater with further updates on its complaint handling to ensure it continues to improve."

Simon Oates, Southern Water's Chief Customer Officer, said: "We’re really proud of the improvements we’ve made in customer satisfaction and the reduction in customer complaints that have come on the back of our transformation programme.

"It's a programme that's been focussed on making it easier for customers to contact us when they need to and giving them a broader range of channels, such as online services to make that contact in the first place.

"It's clear to see that it's been working, and as a result of the reduction in complaints, customer satisfaction has gone up.

"When we look at our position among other water companies in our sector, we’ve gone from propping up the industry league tables just two years ago, to being middle of the pack this year.

"But we know we need to do more.

"We submitted our business plan to Ofwat which outlines how we plan to improve the total service we give to our customers across the board while also reducing bills.

"We want to continue improving so we can deliver the everyday service we know our customers want, expect and deserve.”