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THE WORKERS PARTY

Water and Sewage

The following was supplied to BBC News in response to an article on our policy on water and sewage.

Since privatisation, because of chronic underinvestment and rampant profiteering, more than three billion litres of water, a fifth of the total daily volume used, are lost to leakage every day. As a result of underinvestment in sewerage, only 16% of English waters and 14% of English rivers meet good ecological status.

Thatcher’s government privatised water in 1989. England and Wales became the only countries in the world to have a fully privatised water and sewage disposal system. All that thirty-five years of water privatisation has shown is that any attempt at regulating private companies has failed to make them operate in the interests of the public. 

The average household water bill in England and Wales is to go up by an average of 6%, which would leave households with an average bill of £473.

The ten private companies in England that are now owned by private equity investors have used financial engineering to boost shareholder returns via complex corporate structures that often involve tax havens. Heavy borrowing has resulted in current debt levels that are to the tune of £14bn for Thames Water alone. The resulting interest payments accrued are then passed on to the customer.

Thames water paid £37.5 million in dividends last year, despite reporting an 18% rise in pollution incidents between March and September of 2023. In June 2023, £72bn in dividends was paid to shareholders of parent companies since their privatisation, with £53 billion worth of borrowed money used to fund this. This reportedly amounts to nearly half the sum those companies spent on maintaining and improving the country’s pipes and treatment plants between 1991 and 2019.

The Workers Party will end public-private partnership initiatives in the public sector, to build capacity for a national contracting agency that is integrated with a national economic plan.