Government and Institutions

Water nationalisation is no panacea


In the Media

Christopher Snowdon quoted in The Mail

In the Media

Julian Jessop writes in The Telegraph

Prof. Len Shackleton writes for The Express

IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton has written for The Daily Express arguing against proposals to nationalise water provision amid rising bills and the crisis engulfing England’s largest private provider, Thames Water.

Len wrote:

“Privatisation in 1989 opened up the opportunity to disconnect improvements in water supply and sewage disposal from public spending priorities, prioritising the NHS, education and benefits rather than new sewers. There have been significant improvements, with investment up and most performance indicators (including environmental markers such as wildlife sustainability) showing steady improvement over time. 

“Would nationalisation – itself a long-drawn-out and costly process – produce any improvement over better regulation of the private sector? 

“Sure, costs would be reduced were no dividends paid. But government borrowing still has a cost.  Importantly, the past experience of nationalised industries suggests that productivity growth would be slower than under commercial pressures. Although hidden in general taxation, costs would almost certainly rise faster than before, and we’d indirectly be paying more for water.”

Read Len’s full piece here.