Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/885/22055
Water firms' £1.2bn in profit off human need
By overcharging customers, private water companies in the UK have raked in profits of over £1.2 billion over the last five years.
Ofwat, the water company regulator, consistently overestimated suppliers' costs when setting price limits, allowing them to trump up water bills. This increase has hit the poorest households hardest.
Water bills now cost up to 5.3% of the annual income of a low-earning household, compared to 2.3% in better off households. In the UK, water prices have risen 40% above inflation since privatisation in 1989. The dire effects of privatising the water supply, one of our most basic human necessities, are clear.
The effects of swingeing funding cuts to municipally run water systems in other parts of the world are also grave. As ordinary people in the UK are overcharged by greedy corporations, ordinary people in Flint, Michigan in the United States are dying.
Lead poisoning, headaches - and an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that has killed ten members of the public. This happened after an unelected official switched the city's water supply to the polluted Flint River to save money.
These abuses highlight the crucial importance of taking the necessities of life into public ownership. They also show the need for democratic planning for the good of society, not corporate profits.
In Ireland, a mass campaign against the attempted introduction of water charges is being led by the Socialist Party. Over 57% of the country has boycotted water bills as elections loom.
When workers mobilise behind clear socialist demands, we can win results.
In The Socialist 20 January 2016:
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