Tomorrow's Business Today
Time to splash the water CEOs
Of all Margaret Thatcher’s privatisations, water was the one that made least sense and has indeed been the worst disaster in a competitive field.
There is no competition in water, pretending there could be, or even should be, is just ideology gone askew.
The raw sewage in our rivers and on our beaches is surely one of the scandals of the last five years.
In terms of press, the chief executives of the water companies have got away with it.
Some angry tabloid should do a calculation of the tonnes of sewage dumped into our rivers per pound paid to CEOs. Liv Garfield at Severn Trent would be Poo Meister 1, Steve Mogford at United Utilities, Poo Meister 2.
The graphics department could get creative. They’d dress the CEOs in filthy toilet paper next to pictures of the clean swimming pools at their massive holiday houses.
There’s still time.
Today water companies issued an apology, via Water UK, and said it would spend £10 billion to curb these sewage spills.
How is it going to pay for that? Oh, higher bills to you and me, of course.
Some of the press lives in a world of concocted outrage, the Daily Mail being the obvious example.
This is a subject where the press is less cross than the readers. One hopes they catch up.
Water company flaks will surely have to earn their keep if they do.
In the FT this week the estimable Martin Wolf offered his plan on How to fix Britain’s water industry.
Renationalising the businesses is a possibility and it is hard not to like the idea of these assets being seized in the public interest.
Even shy of that, “higher standards must be set, monitored and imposed, with fierce penalties an those who fail to meet them,” Wolf says.
For our Find Out Now poll this week we asked: Do you think the water companies should be renationalised?
The yes vote was a strong 54%. Even 51% of Conservative voters agree.
You can see the full results below.
Press release of the day
Retail investors are losing interest in ESG shares says this from Charles Schwab.
They are less concerned by environmental, social and governance concerns than they were two years ago.
The release notes: “The true value of ESG-led investments is being increasingly scrutinised amidst the current cost-of-living crisis, with UK investors placing more emphasis on the returns their investments are making instead.”
Stories that will keep rolling
1) Is new Nationwide CEO Debbie Crosbie fully committed to mutuality? What might change her mind?
2) Are there any shock entries/exits from the Sunday Times Rich List? (published online, Friday)
3) How many jobs in total might be lost to AI?
4) How much will banks end up paying to settle lawsuits relating to Jeffrey Epstein?