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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Water, water everywhere, but it's too expensive to drink

This column of mine appears in the Morning Star. It’s also cross-posted over at the Campaign for Public Ownership.

The Crazy Gang. The Keystone Kops. The Marx Brothers. Just three of the all-time great comedy troupes. To which we need to add another name - the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

Last week this bunch of comedians issued a report which claimed that water in Britain is too cheap and recommended the introduction of compulsory metering. 

It would be a hilarious, side-splitting joke if only the subject under discussion wasn't quite so serious. In England water prices have risen by an average of 5.7 per cent since April, nearly double the rate of inflation. 

More and more people are finding it harder to pay their water bills. Research by the Consumer Council for Water has found that one in seven of all customers feel their charges are now unaffordable.
Far from being too cheap, water in England is actually too expensive - and the reason is a simple one. It's called privatisation. 

You can read the whole of the article here.


Anonymous said...

Scotland's water is nationalised but it's not clearly a better service than the English system. Even the Scots don't claim that.

Neil Clark said...

Price freeze in Scotland now into its fourth year- unlike in England, where we've had above inflation increases.

Anonymous said...

Oi, son, there's no point citing numbers like you have done without comparing with the system prior to privatisation. Granted the leakage numbers are high, but where do they stand relative to the publicly owned entities?

Quite a bit lower, I'd imagine. Let's face it, if the regulator- which approves the water companies cost base and hence its each annual revenues- wants to penalise companies, it can do. It could introduce productivity measures and rank it poorly compared to its peers. The regulator is Ofwat, a state agency. Evidently, if it hasn't already, it is broadly happy with the state of things. Why do you think ownership by the state would help in the slightest??!?!?!?! If the current standard is a-ok, why would they want to improve them so markedly?

You've got an agenda and it's clouding your judgement