Majority of public support taking shares off polluting water companies instead of fines – poll

‘Under privatisation, it pays to pollute.’

We Own It

Each year, private water companies in England leak sewage for millions of hours. At the same time, an average £1.6bn in dividends are paid out to shareholders.

But as anti-privatisation campaigners, We Own It, remind, profit-hungry shareholders view paying cash fines as the cost of doing business, and being cheaper than investing to end the sewage crisis.

Instead of being ‘fobbed off with cash fines,’ taking water companies’ shares into public ownership is the solution, say We Own It.

And the public ownership activists are not the only ones requesting for shares to be taken off polluting companies.

A recent poll by We Own It with Survation, showed that as much as 65 percent of the public support punishing sewage-dumping water companies by eliminating shares, instead of issuing cash fines. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of the public are in opposition of such an intervention.

In light of the polling, the pro-nationalisation campaigners have launched a petition, demanding the government take shares not fines and starts bringing our water into public ownership.

The ‘Stop Sewage: Take Shares not Fines’ petition notes how disciplining water companies in this way would help clean up Britain’s seas and rivers, as it would provide a stronger disincentive to pollute. It would also increase a company’s accountability, as the public would get to say over the company’s depollution plans. Additionally, such penalising would make it cheaper to invest in infrastructure because the public would hold an increasing stake in the company and reduce the demand to make profits or pay out dividends. As a result, it would leave more money to invest back into the business and to ultimately stop pollution.

We Own It say that implementing a ‘shares not fines’ system would start to build a water network based around democratic public ownership right away, at no extra cost to the public, without have having to wait for Westminster parties to back nationalisation.

The petition has already attracted over 11,000 signatures.

Image credit: Twitter screen grab

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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