That there’s whining about the privatised water companies is quite obviously true – we can hear the droning from the likes of Owen Jones without bothering to open the windows. They’re obviously not perfect, they’re human built organisations staffed by humans, no such will ever be that.
However, the moment we start to ask what should replace them we find something interesting – people trust the alternatives even less:
Public support for renationalising the water industry has plummeted after a recent survey revealed that British adults trust their water company more than a local council. The survey found that almost nine in ten adults trust their water company to deliver the essential service. Meanwhile only a third of the public said they had confidence in local councils and trade unions to play a role in doing so.
Given local councils and unions this is probably rational too.
In fact, we’ve empirical evidence to back this up too. Upon privatisation the four home nations adopted different systems. England got private companies running local monopolies subject to price regulation. Wales got a not for profit limited by guarantee company. Scotland a single government run company. Northern Ireland stuck with the local councils. A decade on Ofwat went and checked. Who had improved quality while lowering the price the best? The ranking was England, Wales, Scotland, NI.
Sure, privatisation’s not perfection, just better than the alternatives. Perhaps the general public’s not quite so dumb then?