There’s no mistake that the UK is living in uncertain times. We all anxiously await the fate of Brexit and how the changes will impact our economy, our industries, our friends. But there exists an even graver threat to our daily existence – we are on course to run short of water in 25 years. And it is our economic structures and big corporations that are to blame. The demands of population growth and the threat of climate change have had a significant impact on our water supply. But these effects are exacerbated by the greed of the water industry that has prioritised profit over the people.
Public services like water should be nationalised. That’s what campaigners such as Cat Hobbs from We Own It and more than three-quarters of the British public have been saying for years. Privatisation has failed. Water is the most essential resource on our planet. Our bodies are comprised of 70% water. . Without it, no life on this planet can survive and therefore it must be protected as a basic human right.
Yet during a time when our most precious resource grows more scarce and household bills continue to rise as private firms monopolise the water industry in different parts of England and Wales, they continue to receive tax breaks and windfall profits. According to a study from the National Audit Office, water bills have increased at a rate of 40% above inflation since the industry was privatised in 1989.
Since 2010, shareholder dividends have soared upwards of £13.5bn in payouts, almost the amount the companies raked in in pre-tax profits. While these companies continue to profit from their customers, they carelessly waste our water supply by refusing to plug 3bn litres of leaks across the country. Private firms monopolise the water industry in England and Wales. We simply turn on our tap and use water from whatever company operates in our area. That means companies have little incentive to make the service better. They’ve grown greedy and unsustainable as a result – choosing to line their shareholders’ pockets, instead of reducing bills for ordinary people.
Water is a human right and should be accessible to all. That principle is under threat. This is precisely why we must advocate to bring the water supply back into public ownership. Campaigners against privatisation, We Own It, along with SumOfUs have between us gathered more than 69,000 signatures calling for the nationalisation of Britain’s water industry. By nationalising our water supply, we can turn the tide and prevent a devastating water shortage. Private water corporations running public contracts, like Carillion, have already proven they’re not fit to run our public services. The catastrophic collapse of the giant construction firm once again came at a high cost for tax-paying consumers resulting in £148m in estimated losses.
Our water supply belongs to all of us. Having our water industry run by public servants who are elected and are accountable to voters means that we can reinvest money in technologies, maintenance and systems that will ensure our water supply’s viability – instead of giving huge payouts to shareholders. Nationalising the UK water industry is what works best for consumers and what will ensure the conservation of our water supply for the next 25 years – and beyond.