Thatcher privatised our water 30 years ago. Time to take it back.

28 June 2019

Thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher privatised water in England and Wales. Since then, we've seen shareholders of private water companies siphoning off billions of pounds, and CEOs pocketing millions.

Meanwhile, six of our privatised water companies have been found to be avoiding millions in tax.

This is a legalised scam. This money comes straight from our bills, which have risen by a staggering 40% in real terms. 

To make matters worse, these companies haven't been putting money into the water system either. Research has shown that privatisation leads to systemic underinvestment.

The recent scandal of Southern Water - which was given a hefty £126m fine for polluting our environment and covering it up for seven years - was due to a failure to invest.  Southern Water had failed to maintain equipment, leading to wastewater spills, and sewage pumping into the environment. 

Thirty years of privatisation is thirty years too long. Enough is enough. It's time to bring water into public ownership. 

To mark water privatisation's thirty year anniversary, we're letting the water companies know that their time is up. We're going to be taking them back and we're handing them their notice. 

On Saturday 6 July, at 12 midday, there will be actions outside most of the main nine water company HQs in England. Local residents will be telling the water companies their gravy train is over, and making a splash in the local press. 

This won't happen without you. We really need your help. 

Join your local action, invite your friends and spread the word!:

Do you believe in public services for people not profit?

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Ken Orme replied on

Trouble is with fines it's the end user that suffers not the fat cats being paid outrageous amounts.

radfax replied on

Paul Wardle replied on

Totally agree as with the fines on the banks after the financial crash destroyed our economy. It should be the directors of these companies who should pay!!!!!! There was wrong doing but has / is anyone going to be taken to court? no of course not but the little people will suffer.

S. G.Darton replied on

Said this would happen when they were privatised. Appalling behaviour needs to stop

David John Dry replied on

A year or two ago Thames added a premium to our bills for major works in London - well over 50 miles away. If we lived 5 miles down the road we would have been outside their catchment area. Weren't we the lucky ones?

Andy Fiore replied on

Allowing the pollution of rivers is potentially poisoning the whole ecosystem and you should be liable for crimes against the environment, especially if you have already been warned once!

Linda Jeal replied on

Can't join action on 6th but support it happening

William Black replied on

It has been proven that privatisation has reduce the quality of any service.

Denise Phillips replied on

They MUST not get away with polluting our rivers. !!

Denise Phillips replied on


Pete Gorman replied on

Privatisation doesn't work, we know that, despite the government waffle about encouraging competition, better value blah blah blah.

Profits are not reinvested to improve services, but used to inflate investors bank balances and pay executives ridiculous salaries and bonuses at our expense.

They think that they shouldn't be answerable to anyone, just keep reducing overheads by whatever means necessary, usually at the expense of employees and quality of services provided.

Renationalisation is the only answer.

Hugh thrift replied on




Pam LAIT replied on

Hugh, None of OUR SERVICES should have been Privtised, this was Down to maggie giving her pals Bags of Money Without having to work for it.Not keeping up with Repairs And Fiddling Taxes. What Our Tax officers doing, don't they check them out now and again, if it was the Ordinary man in the street he'd be hung drawn and quartered by the Tax Office !

Anonymous replied on

There were some crooked men, and they walked a crooked mile.

They found a crock of gold and took it with a crooked smile.

They sold the crock of gold to the folk that owned it anyway.

And then boughtthe crock of gold back and have it to this day.

John Stoddard replied on

I am willing to attend the Severn Trent Water event in Coventry on Saturday 6 July. Can you provide me with a placard?

Cat replied on

Hi John - that's fantastic, thank you so much! Ellen will be in touch on Tuesday. If you can drop us an email that would be great so we can contact you directly.

Neil Looker replied on

Water should never have been sold off in the first place .

Patrick Bourke replied on

Its about time we managed our own infrastructure.

Adam Haylett replied on

Utilities should not be in the private sector.

It's time to put standards before profits and the public before shareholders.

Water is a natural resource and should not be controlled by the few at the cost to the many.

J.Wilson-Bright replied on

Labour need to get with the program quick. The newer voters are losing patience with a party afraid to commit to socialism. Stop plastic production, tougher legislation for polluters, expose Tory privatisation theft and profiteering. Make a noise...people are listening.

paul lungle replied on

We all need to wake up

K J Ashton replied on

Power to us the people - let’s do it and stop all privatisation of public services. The problem is that Governments are hopeless half hearted managers. Politicians out - compassionate and practical action in. The root cause of Humanity’s problems is SELF INTEREST! We need to care for others more than ourselves = the key to HAPPINESS - not easy!

Naseem Ali replied on

Bring back water companies into public ownership

Simon Jenner replied on

Not releasing info on sewage released is someone defecating on the road and causing illness and death.Time to return common utilities stolen by rampant government gifted to asset-leeches with no rights save force majeur. They've proved not fit and inferior to accountable national ownership.

Robert Helson replied on

Free access to water is a basic human right. It should not be in the ownership of those who are simply in it for profit.

Mike Boulton. replied on

actually it is not on any list of human rights _ but I agree that it should be as should the other basic needs safe shelter, food etc That is not to say they should be free but they should be available, affordable and safe.

Eric replied on

Global warming predictions show that drinking water (and sewage treatment) are set to become National imperatives. That being the case, then this issue is just too important to leave to the vagaries of private enterprise. We need a National strategy and plan NOW. This is about survival not profit!

Alan replied on

The nineteen eighties was a sheer case of privatisation madness by an extreme right wing capitalist Conservative government that saw the vulgar side of money with the creation of the selfish self centred yuppie culture. Electric, gas, water, and BT should not have been privatised and floated on the stock markets. It is time to reverse all that and take it all back into public ownership, I am proud to be a member of the Labour because it is my party's policy to take the utilities back into public ownership, bring back British Rail and re-regulate buses. Because deregulating buses and the bodged up rail privatition was also wrong

mary stuart replied on

People before Profit.

Jackie Smith replied on

horrendous criminal scandalous!!!

Heather replied on

Like so many huge Companies water companies think they are above the law.

The subterfuge carried out by them is totally disgraceful.

angela chicken replied on

Southern Water - unsafe and criminal. All they offer is £60 to stay in control of our utilities. Unacceptable after so many years of cover ups, when they have been playing with our safety and the countryside. Take the water back into public ownership and stop them profiting from us.

Joseph Hannigan replied on

Take the companies back,they have made enough profit and should pay compensation to the new national company.

Tom Peckham replied on

I am increasingly concerned at the poor service that is offered by privatised companies. Water is essential for life and yet the cost of it rises constantly and private investors make large profits. There is something obscene about this. I am convinced that you should be returned to public ownership.

Dennis Tuckerman replied on

As well as huge fines The Directors and Senior Management of the Water Companies who are pouring raw sewage into our rivers should be made to drink it for a week. Putting shareholder profit and their own inflated egos, salaries and bonus before the safety of our children is not only shameful but criminal. I bet they don’t tell their wives or children what they do but spin them a tale about how ‘ecologically’ friendly they and their company is! They need to be public named and shamed so their families and neighbours know they are poisoning the Planet.


Leave the Planet (tlalticpac) in a better shape than when you first found it.

Lyn Bower replied on

Our pubIic services such as energy and water etc are needed to sustain our lives so the sooner they are brought back into our control the better. They should never have been out of our control in the first place but it was another case of the Tories looking after their ‘friends’ never mind our people having to go to food banks.

Jamie replied on

Privatisation is very hard to get right and it seems to me that every formerly public owned business, from water to banks, benefits only fatcat directors and shareholders. Especially so in the case of utility companies owned by foreign interests - why not keep the profit at home??

V Barker replied on

Year on year water charges increase and services get worse. I totally agree with other comments about privatisation in general, it doesn't encourage privatisation it just lines the pockets of greedy people wanting a quick buck at the taxpayers expense.

James Kevern replied on

When the Thatcher government sold off Water they had no right to do so as people owned the Water Boards. They were stolen from us !!! Should be returned without compensation as they have well cover there investment in dividends.

Beverly Godfrey replied on

However much they are fined it will not affect them, they will just put our bills up, we will pay the fine, the top men will still get their big fat wages, and we will still get the poor service we have been getting.

Charles Johnson replied on

Unfortunately all those places are a couple of hours from me but I support it fully.

Went for a paddle in a country stream today: a few places were stimking and I don't think my legs should be itching like they are.

Mr. Gordon Plant replied on

Yes, take all the privatised businesses back into public ownership.

What worries me is what can we do to prevent a future Tory or other right

government from re privatising and pocketing the money.

Annie Haslam replied on

If we don’t take back all the utilities, upon which our lives & livelihoods depend, in the very near future, they’ll be beyond public redemption. It’s a terrifying thought that services like water supply/sewage treatment,transport,phone/internet and health care, will soon be so broken they’re beyond fixing. We all know that regular maintenance is needed to keep anything in top condition. Whether it’s your lawn/allotment, car, health or your home, you need to look after it, not strip it of its vital parts for quick profit. But that’s whats happened, and continues to happen to all the once publicly owned services that were privatised. They may not have been perfect, but they were better than they are now, and they belonged to US, THE PEOPLE. It’s beyond time that we took them back, into public ownership, and ensured their continuing functionality. Our lives really do, to a great extent, depend on them.

Lillian Winter replied on

Water should be in public ownership and not for profit. Also Post,energy, transport and anything which is used by us all.

robert arthur m... replied on

For the most part privatising state assets has been a disaster for consumers. Those who worshiped on the Thatcher altar have been sacrificed as was inevitable. The Stae has a resposibilty to protect it's citizens from unfair treatment .There has to be a better way.

steve o replied on

Flooding rivers with sewage not only poisons them, it poisons the sea where they outflow and the beaches all along the coast there.

Next time you are on a beach and you see your children playing with a brown sticky mess,

go and check,

is it kelp?

or is it raw faeces?

Young children might play with either or both

Sewage nowadays isn't just human bodily waste.

As well as all the household cleaning chemicals washed down it has also been proven that,

All sorts of medications pass through with a proportion unchanged by the body, as well as the active bacteria and viruses causing those diseases.

This all washes down to the sea and affects aquatic life,

it's proven that this is causing gender reversal in male fish from the oestrogen out of birth pills and as it is recycled back round to drinking water may be causing similar problems in people,

also residue from overuse of anti-biotics along with the disease causing bacteria and viruses being targeted, is known to be causing meningitis in North Sea cod and other fish.

Sadly this makes them easier to catch so more likely to end up on a dinner plate where they can spread the disease back to humans.

EU rules currently protect us from most of these disease carrying fish but after Brexit and the Bonfire of Red Tape we are wide open to all these risks and more

Post-Brexit rules for the water companies are likely to be a lot softer than EU rules, so the time to shout at water companies and politicians to clean up their act, is NOW!


Paul Wardle replied on

Maggie Thatcher said that public was bad and private was good so why did she allow the public utilities to be flog of to the French and German Governments?

Privatisation in Public Services just doesn't work, well not for the vast majority of the population!!

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