EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Privatisation has failed in so many areas – especially water
It’s time to re-nationalise water. Privatisation has failed. I have long campaigned to clean up our seas and rivers
This is not a new problem, but it is certainly one that has gathered pace under the last few years.
That is on this Government and the water companies’ watch.
Water companies pumped raw sewage into Britain's seas and rivers for more than 2.6m hours last year - a 2,500% rise since 2016 including here in South Shields.
But that figure may be even worse than that because since 24% of sewage overflow pipes at popular seaside resorts in England and Wales have monitors that are faulty or have no monitors at all to gauge water quality.
Since privatisation, English water firms have paid £72bn to shareholders in dividends and CEOS have since 2017 received nearly £60m in pay and bonuses.
Clearly the vast sums of money being made from privatisation aren’t going into repairing and upgrading our Victorian sewage systems and infrastructure.
Instead, it is going directly into the pockets of those who happily allow our waters to be infested with raw sewage.
The new PM won’t make a difference, Liz Truss was the person responsible for cutting millions of pounds of funding for tackling water pollution when she was environment secretary.
The Labour Party has pledged to stop this practise by ensuring there can be enforcement of unlimited fines, holding water company bosses legally and financially accountable for their negligence, and by toughening up regulations that currently allows the system to be abused.
The underlying problem remains the same though, and we need to go further.
In 2019, the Financial Times calculated that re-nationalising the water companies would cost £14.5bn, substantively less than the £50bn paid to shareholders over the last decade.
This must be our goal.
Privatisation has failed in many areas, but none more so than water.