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Majority of public oppose water nationalisation, new poll finds

Support for water nationalisation has continued to fall with only one in four people now backing it and more than half of the public coming out against it, according to the latest opinion poll by ComRes.

It was revealed earlier this year that the Labour Party’s plan to take the water industry in England into public ownership at a price well below market value would have a damaging effect on the savings of nearly 6 million pensioners. The latest polling shows that the public are not happy with that prospect, with 53% of people now saying they oppose the nationalisation plans and just 27% supporting them.

The attack on pensions – including those belonging to more than 4 million public sector workers – was viewed particularly poorly by the public, with only 16% saying they supported the move.

The polling also showed that only a third (34%) of the public were confident in the ability of a combination of local councils and trade unions to run the water industry, which is the proposal set out in Labour’s ‘Clear Water’ plans.

The new figures show a huge slump from the 83% support for water nationalisation often quoted by supporters of public ownership, which came from a poll carried out in summer 2017 long before details about Labour’s water takeover plans emerged.

Nationalisation would cost the British taxpayer £90 billion upfront, according to respected independent think tank the Social Market Foundation. This is money that could otherwise be spent on teachers, nurses, hospitals, schools and pensions. The cost is equivalent to the entire education budget, or enough to pay the salaries of every doctor, nurse and other NHS employee twice over.

ComRes interviewed 2,057 GB adults online between the 11th and 12th of September 2019. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults.