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A damning report should spell the end of England’s privatised water industry

The chief executive of the public regulator of private water companies in England and Wales (Ofwat) says the companies “have ‘created the perfect conditions for renationalization” as a result of their own actions. Writing in The Canary, James Aitchison says a damning report should spell the end of England's privatized water industry. “The report, by the University of Greenwich Public Services International Research Unit, compared the privatised English water industry with the public Scottish industry. It provides compelling proof that the privatized water industry in England is inefficient, unnecessarily overpriced, and benefits shareholders at the expense of consumers.” [The Privatised Water Industry in the UK: An ATM for Investors, by Karol Yearwood, September 2018]

There’s no good reason to pay staff a pound less

Bolton Hospital workers went on a 48-hour strike to protest unfair pay. Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, says “there’s no good reason to pay staff a pound less than others doing the same job, just because they’re employed by a subco. UNISON stands with the IFM strikers—and others fighting unfair subcos—as they fight for the wages they deserve.”

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The Privatised Water Industry in the UK. An ATM for investors

This paper aims to critically evaluate the privatised water & sewage industry in England. We find that the public-owned sector in Scotland delivers the service just as efficiently, albeit at a lower cost to consumers. Our econometric analysis suggests that the 40% increase in real household bills since privatisation was mainly driven by continuously growing interest payments on debt, contrary to the regulator attributing them to growing costs and investments. Finally, we show that the accelerating debt levels are primarily the result of disproportionate dividend pay-outs, which exceeded the privatised companies’ cash balances in all but one year since 1989. We conclude that the way the industry operates may no longer be sustainable and seems to disadvantage consumers greatly without their knowledge, as there is a fog of misleading statements by the companies and the regulator.

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From Transactions to Changemaking: Rethinking Partnerships between the Public and Private Sectors

This report published by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) is a new voice to the debate on the role of the private sector in the delivery of public services. While the current debate remains unhelpfully polarised along party lines, we argue that partnerships between the public and private sectors must fundamentally change – from an approach that is primarily transactional in nature, to one that is changemaking.

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Selling space - Britain's public spaces going private

When strolling in parks and squares, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are all publicly owned. But more and more public spaces are being bought by private companies and although the public is still allowed to use them, there are restrictions. We speak to Will Self and the Conservative MP for Croydon South - Chris Philp - a member of the Treasury Select Committee.

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