West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has signed the Early Day Motion 1761 in parliament, which calls on the government to bring the English water companies into public ownership as soon as possible, and which was put forward as part of a campaign to end privatisation of the water industry.

The campaign by We Own It has attracted support from over 50 MPs from across parties including frontbench MPs who cannot sign EDMs. Supporters can sign a petition here to add their name.

We Own It says that since water was privatised in 1989, bills have increased by 40% in real terms (1). Public ownership of water would save each household in England £100 a year (2).

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: 
“Privatisation of our water industry has been a disaster – such a vital service cannot be left up to private companies to exploit for profit. Our bills should be going towards improving the service and investing in much-needed maintenance to reduce leaks, not to line shareholders’ pockets.”

United Utilities, the water company that serves West Lancashire, came very close to issuing a hosepipe ban last summer to conserve water during the dry months, despite being responsible for wasting 133ltrs of water per household every day through leaky pipes (3).

United Utilities shareholders made £271m in dividends last year (4).

The water industry in England and Wales has built up a debt mountain of over £50bn over the last 30 years, and the majority of this has gone directly to pay shareholder dividends. Any investment that the industry has made has been financed through customers’ bills (5).

This debt mountain means that customers are paying on average £53 extra per year just to pay the interest on the debt (5).

Ellen Lees, Campaigns Officer at We Own It said: 
“83% of us want public ownership of our water industry – it’s time to end the scandal of privatised water and make it work for us. Water is a profitable industry, so let’s take that profit and reinvest it, instead of leaking it away to unaccountable shareholders”

Campaigners are holding a ‘circus of privatised water’ outside Parliament on 6 July to mark the 30th anniversary of water privatisation and to expose the bad behaviour of water companies. The ‘SplashMob’ event will highlight the failures of the private water companies in the 3 decades since water was privatised and call for public ownership of water in England. 

GMB and Corporate Watch have revealed that the CEOs of 9 private water companies have pocketed £58m in salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits in the last 5 years (6).

Across the world, communities are taking control of water, from Paris to Jakarta (7). In the Netherlands and Uruguay, water privatisation is illegal (8). Scottish Water operates very successfully in public hands, and bills in Scotland are lower than the average annual English bill (9).

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