General election ‘a good thing’ for water

Election should bring certainty for the water sector

Southern Water chief executive Ian McAulay Southern Water chief executive Ian McAulay

The snap general election on 8 June is a “good thing” for the water sector, as it should bring certainty, according to the chief executive of Southern Water.

“I am hopeful that we will get more certainty quicker,” Ian McAulay told Utility Week. “If we do, I think the election is a good thing, on balance.”

“The one thing that helps business to operate well is certainty, and that’s what we’re looking for,” he added. “We’re looking for good direction and certainty of direction. The changes that we’re seeing are broadly positive. We have to try and get the certainty into things now in terms of how is policy going to translate, are there going to be significant changes?”

Prime minister Theresa May announced in mid-April that a general election would be held on 8 June.

Most of the focus in the run-up to the election has been on the energy sector, as the Conservative manifesto included measures to cap energy prices, and the Labour manifesto included plans to return the energy networks to public ownership.

The Labour party also said it will re-nationalise the water sector if it gets into power, creating nine new public bodies to run the water and sewerage system in England.

In response to the proposals, the water industry defended its privatisation, claiming water bills would be 30 per cent higher if it had remained under public ownership.

The Liberal Democrats did not mention the water sector in their manifesto. However, the party told Utility Week it is against water re-nationalisation. “There are genuine problems of affordability and ensuring we have sustainable levels of supply, but these need targeted government intervention in the market, directing the regulator to help companies deliver better, affordable services,” a spokesperson said.

“The fault lies in a Conservative government who won’t regulate the market effectively. We support government intervening in the water market to ensure companies help customers save water and thus saving consumers money.”

The full interview with Ian McAulay will be in 26 May issue of Utility Week and online

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