Public ownership

Labour will bring railways, the Royal Mail, the utilities and energy supply back under public ownership. Labour will introduce free high-speed broadband across Britain. Labour will invest in culture– libraries, museums and galleries across the country.


Privatisation makes no sense

  • Private ownership in water, rail and energy that began under Thatcher has been a rip-off for customers, sending costs up and quality down.
  • Since privatisation, water bills have gone up by 40% and rail fares by 24%.
  • Every week, we waste millions on the extra cost of privatisation:
    • Rail – £19 million a week
    • Buses – £9.7 million a week
    • Water – £44 million a week
    • Energy – £61 million a week
  • Privatisation makes these services wasteful, inefficient, fragmented and unaccountable.
  • The government can borrow money more cheaply than the private sector.
  • Workers in privatised or outsourced industries get lower pay and worse conditions.
  • Private companies prioritise making a profit, not caring for people. They pay billions in dividends to their shareholders, driving costs up and ignoring users in rural areas.
  • In the last five years, companies owning our energy networks have paid out almost £12bn in dividends to shareholders, and made billions of pounds of unjustified profits.
  • A huge amount of network investment is needed in the coming decades for a transition to green energy. However, network companies have been repeatedly criticised – including in the Cost of Energy Review – for prioritising dividend extraction over investment into infrastructure upgrades.
  • Britain ranks 35 out of 37 nations analysed by the OECD for broadband connectivity.
  • Only 1 in 12 premises in Britain have access to full-fibre connections (capable of delivering speeds greater than 1 gigabit per second). In Spain, 7 in 10 and in South Korea everyone has full access.


Labour’s plan for public ownership:
  • Railways, the Royal Mail, the water and energy grid will be wholly or partly renationalised.
  • Bring bus networks into public ownership, increase and expand local services, free bus travel for under-25s, reinstate the 3,000 routes that have been cut.
  • Bring rail networks back into public ownership. Fares will be cheaper and journeys simpler and less fragmented. A publicly owned rail company will reinvest profits in improving the service.
  • Bring energy networks into public ownership. This will stop customers paying huge amounts for dividend payouts and take the strategic control necessary to decarbonise our energy system.
  • Create a National Energy Agency and 14 Regional Energy Agencies on the institutional base These will own, maintain and run system operation of the distribution networks.
  • Establish British Broadband, with two arms: British Digital Infrastructure (BDI) and the British Broadband Service (BBS). Partially renationalise BT, deliver full-fibre networks for free broadband.
  • £1bn Cultural Capital Fund to transform libraries, museums and galleries across the country.


Will it work?

  • Publicly owned Scottish Water is the most trusted utility company in the UK.
  • Councils are already insourcing local public services from waste to social care. Over 3 out of 4 UK councils are planning to bring services back in house this year.
  • Nationalisation is incredibly popular! Most people think public services should be in public control. Polling shows 83% support for public ownership in water, 77% for energy, 76% for railways and 65% for Royal Mail.


We can pay for it!

  • Nationalising water, energy grids and the Royal Mail would save UK households £7.8bn a year and pay for itself within seven years.
  • Compensation is not as high as some have claimed. If shareholder compensation is limited to the amount they have invested in utilities, rather than paying out a “market value”, the total cost of compensation to private sector owners would be just £49.7bn. This is just a quarter of the £196bn figure calculated by the CBI.
  • Free broadband would be funded by properly taxing internet giants that depend on download speeds.

Labour’s Manifesto: Bitesized

Labour has a plan to transform Britain. Let us fill you in on the details.

Work, justice, migration, equality


The NHS and care

Public ownership

Green industrial revolution

Economy for the many




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