Water Price Hikes ‘Insulting’ In The Face Of Water Wastage

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Water union GMB has described the price hikes of water and sewerage bills for householders across England and Wales of two per cent as insulting, given the fact that billions of litres of water are wasted each day and bosses have been paid millions in dividends and bonuses.


Since privatisation of the water industry was rolled out by the Thatcher government in 1989, with the promise of greater investment to improve efficiency, water bills have risen 40 per cent above inflation.


And in the meantime, privatised companies waste almost 2.4 billion litres of water every day, the equivalent of 950 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth.


GMB national officer Stuart Fegan said that this new price hike – which will see household bills now average out at £415 – suggests that privatisation may well have failed.


A recent GMB investigation revealed that the CEOs of the nine privatised suppliers in England pocketed £58 million in pensions, bonuses, salaries and other benefits in the last five years.


Mr Fegan said: “For private water companies to hike up bills again is insulting to customers and begs the question again whether privatisation has failed.


“Billions of litres of water are wasted every day, while bosses trouser millions and shareholders continue to get rich on dividends from our natural resource. Thirty years on from privatisation, it’s clear it is not working. It’s time to take back the tap and bring our water sector back into public hands.”


In a separate blog post on the GMB website, Mr Fegan called on planners and policymakers to talk about the future of the water sector in the UK in a less hysterical tone after Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said the industry needs to escape the “jaws of death”.


He explained that, despite what the agency has to say on the matter, there is no scarcity of water in this country and less than two per cent of the water that comes from annual rainfall is used for domestic and industrial needs… which is unlikely to change in the future if we continue to work using the current model.


The expert went on to say that what is currently lacking is a plan from privatised firms to move water from plentiful areas to those where it is scarce.


And what is now required is a “calm and sensible debate” about how infrastructure investments can be made to move plentiful resources, rather than scaremongering about how consumption must be reduced because of climate change and a growing population.


Mr Fegan concluded that it’s clear to all apart from the government that water infrastructure needs investment above the levels seen right now and water must now be put back in public hands to ensure that it works for the people.


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