Coffey suggests water company consolidation
Environment minister Therese Coffey has told a think tank event that consolidation among the UK's privatised water companies could help ensure security of supply and infrastructure.
The Labour party last week expanded on its plans for renationalisation of the water industry, which has come under pressure amid public concerns over bills, leakage and shareholder profits.
Labour's model, as set out in its Clear Water pamphlet, says the party would "maintain the regional structure of the water industry, with ownership of the existing water and sewerage companies transferred to new Regional Water Authorities".
Speaking at a Social Market Foundation think tank event at the Conservative Party annual conference, Coffey suggested consolidation of the private companies may prove helpful in improving operations.
“We have this curiosity that we have these huge companies and we have these absolutely tiny companies -- Bristol Water, Cambridge, South Staffordshire,” she said in comments reported by Bloomberg, although she added that consolidation was only viable “if you were going to have a big revolution in the way the industry operates”.
Meanwhile, GMB has released data showing that 71 per cent of shares in England's nine water and sewerage companies are owned by organisations from overseas.
The trade union launched a 'Take Back the Tap' campaign for renationalisation this summer and urged Environment Secretary Michael Gove to take the industry back into public hands.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “It's a scandal that the supply of water that falls from England’s skies is in fact now overwhelmingly owned by overseas profiteers.
“If Michael Gove is serious about taking back control, he will end the water privatisation rip-off racket and put water back in public hands.
“Every time we turn on the tap, big businesses around the globe are making money at our expense. The spivs and speculators must be laughing at us as they make billions in profits while our water bills go up and leakages go unfixed.
“This is yet another damning example of a failed privatisation experiment. GMB is campaigning to Take Back the Tap and return England’s water to its rightful owners – the public."
- Keep focused amid uncertainty, British Water chair tells sector British Water chairman Chris Loughlin has told members that they need to stay focused on the delivery of outstanding... Read More >
- PR19 plans may define future of industry - CCWater CEO Plans submitted to Ofwat this week "could define the future of the water industry in England and Wales", Consumer Council... Read More >
- Nationalisation report a reminder of consequences - Water UK Water UK has said a new report on the impact of nationalisation on household savings and pensions is "a useful reminder to... Read More >
- Scottish Water starts planning for the long term For SR21, Scottish Water is moving away from the traditional approach to business plans and developing a blueprint for the... Read More >
- Football teams and water companies: Closer than you think New season, new league, new challenges... Egremont Group's Owen Quinn and Alex Graham on the parallels between football... Read More >
- Abstract concept: How can water companies reduce abstraction? Despite concerns over supplies, water companies face pressure to reduce abstraction. As part of our Utility of the Future... Read More >
- The end of 'business as usual' in the water sector? James Connolly, head of partnerships at digital asset and works management company eviFile, assesses the message coming... Read More >
- Data Protection and Brexit - Is your organisation prepared? Guidance to help businesses and charities continue to comply with data protection law after the UK leaves the EU Read More >