Labour abstain on bid to hold them to account

  • Post last modified:May 17, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Keir Starmer’s Labour has abstained on a Lib Dem amendment to criminalise water companies for dumping sewage. The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill failed to pass.

The Conservatives voted against, defeating the amendment by 262 to 17.

That’s despite companies releasing more than double the sewage into rivers and the sea in 2023 than they did in 2022. In 2023 there were 3.6 million hours of spills compared to 1.75 million the year before.

Labour has stated it would “strengthen regulation so law-breaking water bosses face criminal charges”. So yet again, it seems words mean little to Starmer’s party.

The amendment could have led to companies finally investing in a solution to increase capacity for sewage treatment and deal with sewage and rainwater separately.

But this is what happens when we have a profiteering company running an essential public service. At the same time as polluting our environment at a record- level, shareholders are making huge profits.

Water companies: profit over a clean environment

Since Margaret Thatcher privatised water, companies in England have paid £2bn per year to shareholders. The total figure now stands at £78bn.

While profits soar, the water industry has also amassed debt of £64bn, despite receiving a debt-free service before privatisation.

Thames Water shareholders are now quitting at the prospect of investing to improve the service, further proving private profit is not how one runs an essential like water.

Private water companies operate a monopoly in the given area so there is not even any consumer choice available.

When it comes to public losses, it’s not just the dividends and debt. The average pay for water and sewage company CEOs in England is around £1.7m.

And that’s not all for the CEOs. They have received £25m in bonuses and incentives since 2019.

The profiteering has a real impact on our bills, which are up 40% in real terms since privatisation.

Private water delivers increased costs and a failure to properly invest in infrastructure. With climate change bringing increased risk of flooding and more water scarcity, there’s never been a more important time to nationalise.

Featured image via Keir Starmer – YouTube and Channel 4 News – YouTube

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