Response to Ofwat: public shouldn't pay the price for failures of privatisation

Thames Water headquarters

11 July 2024

Today Ofwat has released its "draft determinations" on water bill rises for the next five years. This is We Own It's response.
 
The public will be absolutely disgusted that Ofwat wants us to pay the price for the failures of privatisation with a massive 21% increase in bills. £78 billion has already flowed out from our bills in dividends to shareholders around the world while our rivers and seas are full of raw sewage. The private companies haven't invested a single penny of their own money since 1989 (it's all come from our bills) and they've left the infrastructure to crumble. Now they want us to pay again while the water bosses and shareholders continue to profit from their investment: us, the customers who have no choice. 
 
Labour is in government with a new mandate, it should be urgently bringing water companies into public ownership. Thames Water could easily be brought into Special Administration and then permanent public ownership with shareholders and bondholders losing out to get the best deal for the public. The rest of the English water companies should have their shares handed to the public instead of being fined for sewage. We need shadow water authorities in every region ready to take over from these failed companies, with citizens, workers and environmental groups on boards alongside local councillors.
 
The evidence base for public ownership is established but the government could confirm this by immediately carrying out an urgent review of water ownership and regulation. This was suggested by Feargal Sharkey and as put forward in our open letter signed this week by celebrities, unions and groups working to protect rivers and seas including Surfers Against Sewage and River Action UK. 
 
90% of the world has public ownership. 7 out of 10 people in England want public ownership. Until we get it, we will be outrageously ripped off and the problem will not be solved. 
 
You can't have a recovery regime for privatised water companies and clamp down on them at the same time. This is the catch 22 of water privatisation. As long as they're making a profit, that money won't be invested in the clean up."
Thames Water headquarters

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Comments

John Vaughan replied on Permalink

It cannot be acceptable for shareholders to receive income when companies are on the verge of financial collapse

Jason replied on Permalink

Give us our services back. Privatisation has failed. We deserve better than this.

Annabel replied on Permalink

Stop private companies profiteering off a basic necessity while polluting our water

David Indge replied on Permalink

Nationalisation appears to be the only fair and justifiable choice. People are tired of endless sewage spills and rising bills, as shareholders siphon profits at the expense of failing infrastructure.

CK replied on Permalink

It is the water company's shareholders and execs who have profited from running down their infrastructure and cutting corners without the necessary investment over previous years, the cost of making the systems through which they deliver their business should be borne by them and not by customers who have no choice of supplier. Reduce their profits, don't increase customers' bills!

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