We are building a better web presence. Visit our beta website to take part in a better experience which will replace the current site by the end of the year.

British Minister shames privatised water companies for tax avoidance

02 March 2018
Michael Gove, the Conservative Environment Secretary, launched a searing attack on water company bosses - accusing them of avoiding billions of pounds in tax, overpaying executives and failing to properly invest in infrastructure.

Gove's criticism of the water companies' tax policies shows that the issue is of increasing importance to politicians across the political spectrum.

Read the full story in Independent: Michael Gove launches searing attack on water company bosses over tax avoidance and executive pay

In an unexpected move for a Conservative Cabinet minister, he named and shamed the chief executives of particular water companies. Gove accused them of funneling their profits to shareholders, while hiding "behind complex financial structures” in off-shore tax havens.

Some companies have been playing the system for the benefit of wealthy managers and owners, at the expense of consumers and the environment.

He went on:

They have shielded themselves from scrutiny, hidden behind complex financial structures, avoided paying taxes, have rewarded the already well-off, kept charges higher than they needed to be and allowed leaks, pollution and other failures to persist for far too long.

Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has been equally scathing of companies involved in privatisation:

The failure of privatisation and outsourcing of public services could not be clearer.

From Carillion’s collapse and the private sector’s chronic inability to run the East Coast Mainline to the exorbitant costs of PFI and the hopeless inability of G4S even to handle basic security at the London Olympics the same story is repeated again and again; costly, inefficient, secretive.

Unaccountable corporate featherbedding, lubricated by revolving door appointments between Whitehall, Westminster and private boardrooms as service standards and the pay and conditions of public service workers are driven down. This obsessive drive to outsource and privatise has been tried and tested to destruction.

Carillion’s meltdown is a watershed moment. We need to take a new direction with a genuinely mixed economy fit for the 21stcentury that meets the demands of cutting edge technological change. Public services that reflect today’s society and the industries of the future.

 

Also see