Following the two catastrophic burst water mains in my constituency, I am more convinced than ever of the merits of bringing the water industry back into public ownership.
Local residents have had to fight to receive compensation, and some still have not been adequately compensated.
Companies like Severn Trent operate a regional monopoly, giving customers no choice in who supplies their water.
So, water privatisation even failed the Conservatives’ dubious assertion that the “market” will deliver value for money.
It is almost 30 years since Margaret Thatcher inflicted this failed experiment on the country.
Since then, bills have risen exponentially, leaks are endemic, and billions of pounds have been creamed off in dividends for wealthy shareholders while fat-cat executives enjoy annual mult-million-pound remuneration packages. It is a scandal of monumental proportions. The water industry, like other utilities and public services, has been used as a giant cash cow, which has prioritised private profit for wealthy elites at the expense of service quality.
The terms and conditions of the workforce in these privatised utilities and public services have also been systematically undermined.
I was, therefore, delighted when earlier this month the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, reiterated Labour’s determination to bring the water industry back into public ownership.
This move cannot come soon enough. Recent analysis has revealed that investment in the water supply infrastructure is lower than it was in 1990.
Over the same period there has been a 40% real-term increase in water bills for consumers. Furthermore, 20% of water is lost through leakages before it reaches the tap in your home. The figures are truly astonishing.
A colossal 7.5 trillion litres was lost through leakages between 2010 and 2017, which is the equivalent to the volume of Loch Ness.
Despite this spectacular failure to deliver for the public, the value of water companies for shareholders across England has almost quadrupled.
It is obvious that water should be provided for the public good, not private profit.
Yet to add insult to injury, the current system allows consumers to be ripped off for an inferior service.
Labour’s plans to bring our water system into public ownership will see profits reinvested so that households across the UK have better services and lower bills.
This isn’t a pipedream. One only has to look north of the border to see that where the water industry stayed in the public sector water charges for consumers are considerably lower.
Public opinion polls demonstrate the overwhelming dissatisfaction with the status quo. An incredible 83% want to see water brought back into public ownership.
But the present government continues to cling to their failed experiment.
So, until we get a change of government, it seems the leaks will keep on draining water from the crumbling infrastructure, wealthy shareholders will carry on receiving substantial pay-outs, and the fat-cat executives will continue receiving their seven figure salaries.
The injustice of this broken system fills me with confidence that change is coming, it’s just a question of when.
This article was originally published in the Derby Telegraph.