Today we have launched a policy briefing Defend Scotland’s Water in response to a concerted campaign to use the financial crisis as cover for the privatisation of Scotland’s water.
Essentially the sharks are circling again around Scotland’s greatest asset – our water. The regulatory regime has been preparing Scottish Water for privatisation for some time, driven by the ideological zeal of the Water Industry Commission Chair, Sir Ian Byatt. He has been joined by the SFT led by another privatisation advocate and banker, Sir Angus Grossart. This briefing makes it crystal clear that water is both an essential public service and, given the global water crisis, one of Scotland’s greatest economic assets.
The briefing outlines the huge costs of privatisation to the water charge payer and to the continued ‘marking down’ of the value of Scottish Water’s assets, from £15bn when the corporation was created, down to current discussions of around £1bn. This is in order to make the package an attractive price for the private sector.
We have also rejected the supposed ‘alternative’ of mutualisation. In a capital intensive industry like water, mutualisation is not a co-operative solution. All services would be delivered by private water companies with all the costs of privatisation. It sounds cuddly and safe, but in reality it is a Trojan horse for privatisation.
The real alternative is to join with the worldwide movement in favour of democratisation of this essential service.