Tag Archives: clean sewage

We’ve been told lies about Thames Water’s profits – and the cost of cleaning the sewage

This is now proved true: in a bid to save privatised water firms’ profits, the Tory government is asking them to spend less money on cleaning our water than is needed to do the job. You will drink dirty water; it will make you sick.

Earlier today, This Site reported that Thames Water – the privatised water firm that is in danger of collapse – has not paid any dividends to shareholders in six years.

That was the best information available to This Writer at the time.

However, new information has come to light:

Economist Richard Murphy has examined the finances of all the privatised water companies, and has come back with several conclusions:

  • Their operating profit margin is a staggeringly-high 35 per cent. From this, we may conclude that there is no reason for Thames Water to be in danger of insolvency.
  • Every single penny they have made in profit has been paid out to shareholders in dividends. None was reinvested in infrastructure or equipment (borrowing paid for equipment and the infrastructure was ignored). So Tories like those on the BBC’s Politics Live on June 28 were wrong when they said money has been invested in improving infrastructure. We can’t say they were lying because they may have been misinformed, but someone definitely lied to them.

Mr Murphy’s conclusion on this is stark: “The public is being fleeced by these companies who are simply treating the fact that the English consumer has had no choice as to who to buy water from as a means to extract profit from them.

But that’s not all!

  • The industry has made investments – £77bn on equipment, the rest on other financial investments. This has been funded mostly by borrowing, with £13bn coming from shareholders. This means the claim (when water was privatised) that private capital would fund water after privatisation was nonsense gibberish; it is being funded by borrowing.
  • Mr Murphy’s figures show £13bn invested by shareholders, who have received £25bn in dividends, meaning that for every pound they have put into the industry, they have received nearly two pounds in return.


  • It is clear that the water companies are environmentally insolvent. This means their business structures are not sustainable in terms of reducing pollution and if they are made to put in the necessary money to do so, they will go bankrupt.

What this means, of course is that the water firms have been polluting the UK’s waterways to a staggering extent. I’ll republish the part of Mr Murphy’s thread that covers this, so you have it straight from the horse’s mouth:

In simple language: because they decided to take their massively-overinflated profits for themselves rather than invest them in improving the sewage system, the water companies and their shareholders have created a problem that will cost £260 billion to solve – and if they are made to shell out that money now, they will all go out of business.

The government is therefore asking them to pay slightly more than one-fifth of that amount – but as a result, your water supply will be polluted by the sewage and other rubbish that the water companies have pumped into the ecosystem.

This means the Conservative government – and you need to bear it in mind if you have a Tory MP – has said that it is happy for you to be made ill by polluted or infected water, in order to allow privatised water firms to continue making a profit.

The answer to all this, of course, is re-nationalisation.

Ah, but the government says this is too expensive, because of the cost of buying out the shareholders!

Is it, though?

Mr Murphy says no compensation should be offered to shareholders at all, because they have behaved in an irresponsible way that means it will cost more money to fix the problems they have created than they originally paid to own their parts of these firms.

He adds that providers of loans to the water firms may have to take a hit as well, because they made bad decisions in lending to these companies.

The Tories in government are unlikely to accept this because, even though it is in line with a basic principle of business that if you invest in something unprofitable, you lose money, it diverges from their strategy in privatising water in the first place: that the profits would go to private shareholders and it is the losses that will be paid for by the public and customers.

Mr Murphy makes another excellent suggestion – which is that, because the water industry will need to be supported with borrowed funds, it should issue water bonds to the public via ISAs. You could save in a way that ensures we get clean water in the future.

I appreciate that this is a lot of information but it is very important information that could affect your health, and that of your family and children in the future.

So please share this article to ensure the information in it is seen by as many people as possible.

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