Recent news from the privatised utilities continues to appal and astonish in equal measure. We hear that NPower profits have soared by 34% in the last year alone, fuelled by blatant price manipulation amongst the ‘big six’; that a hosepipe ban is to be introduced across the south-east by water companies, while they continue to lose over 20% of supplies through easily fixable leakages and fail to invest in sustainable supplies; and that commuters will experience further pain on the trains as fares continue to rise significantly above the rate of inflation because of the failure by Government to tackle the inefficiencies and profiteering caused by the privatisation and fragmentation of the rail network.
This should give us all pause for thought. It’s amazing, really, how successive governments have got away with the fiction that selling off the utilities, which used, after all, to belong to us all, would lead to better service and lower costs. The reality is higher costs, worse service and poorer terms and conditions for staff as shareholders and senior executives suck value out of the companies and profit at our expense; and, in the case of the railways, extract huge sums of public subsidy.
Why do people put up with this? Why should private profit be made out of public need? Let’s fight for re-nationalisation of the privatised energy, water, transport, post and telecommunications companies!