We all need water - make it publicly owned
When you turn on a tap to make a cup of tea or run a bath, you're using water that should belong to all of us. But right now, if you live in England, your water is privatised. This means higher bills, more leaks and not much control over our water - even though we can't live without it.
Let's spread the word - it doesn't have to be this way. In Scotland and Wales, water is already run for people not profit. The tide is turning across the world as cities take control of their water.
Back in 1989, the government sold off our ten previously public regional water companies. Our water and sewerage is now run by nine regional private monopolies which are mostly owned by private equity. So the money you spend on water bills creates a profit stream for investors as far afield as Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
You don't get a choice about where you buy your water from. Since privatisation, your water bill has increased by 40% in real terms. Research shows that water privatisation means higher prices and/or lower investment in water infrastructure.
"The idea that somebody owns water is absurd ... a visitor from another planet might wonder why something so fundamental to our existence, indeed something we are almost wholly composed of, is bought and sold for the monetary advantage of a select few." Pete Magee, We Own It supporter
Where's your money going?
A report by Corporate Watch shows that nearly a third of the money you spend on water bills goes directly to investors and banks. The CEOs of the 19 water companies were paid almost £10 million in 2012. Six water companies are avoiding millions in tax. Water companies can rely on you paying your water bills regularly, and they use complicated debt structures to make huge amounts of money. Meanwhile, water poverty is increasing as the poorest households struggle to pay their bills.
The FT recently reported on the huge debt piling up in the water industry, and confirmed what we already knew - our water bills are rising to pay for huge shareholder payouts. They cited a study by the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) at the University of Greenwich which calculated that bringing water into state ownership would cut the average household water bills by 25%.
It's our water
83% of us want water to be run for people not profit. If water belonged to all of us, we'd all save around £900 million a year. That means your household would save around £75 a year on bills. Public ownership would be cheaper because we wouldn't need to spend money on dividends for shareholders and higher interest payments. It would also mean more control over the water we need for cleaning, cooking our dinners and watering the lawn on a summer evening.
100 million people around the world are enjoying publicly owned water
The tide is turning against privatisation across the world. In the last 15 years, 235 cities in 37 countries have taken their water into public ownership - check out where this is happening. This is improving the lives of 100 million people. The trend is on the increase and is mostly happening in high income countries. In France, 94 cities have brought water into public ownership. In the US, 58 cities have done so.
Both the Netherlands and Uruguay have made water privatisation illegal.
In Scotland and Wales, water is run for people not profit
If you live in Scotland, your water is already run for people not profit - and you're paying less than the rest of us. The publicly owned company Scottish Water is the most trusted public utility in the UK. It is constantly investing, keeping customers happy and reducing its carbon footprint.
"In Scotland the water supply is still publicly funded-and long may it last. Compared to England and Wales, there are no glaring inefficiencies, no shareholders to mollify, no drive to force up charges. We pay the water charges with our council tax and it works!" Jane, We Own It supporter
In Wales, much of the country's water is provided by a not-for-profit company, Glas Cymru/Welsh Water. The company serves 3 million people and helps 60,000 low income customers to pay their bills. People are happy with the service - surveys show sector-leading levels of customer satisfaction.
Come on England, let's stop pouring money down the drain
Wouldn't it be great if when you turned the tap on, you knew the water belonged to all of us? If your cup of tea or your bubble bath was just there for you to enjoy and not a revenue stream for private investors? Let's follow the examples of Paris and Berlin, Scotland and Wales.
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Find out more
This PSIRU Brief discusses some of the categorical errors mainstream economists make in predicting the outcome of water renationalisation. It argues that these errors are due to the misrepresentation of the ethos and motivation of the public and private sectors.
In a new video for We Own It, John McDonnell explains Labour's promise to bring rail, water, energy and the Royal Mail back into public ownership.