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.
Indpendent, 14th November 2019
Guardian, 15th November 2019
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