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Date: 8 April 2010

Water report wants to sell-off successful public service

UNISON Scotland today condemned the conclusions of the report published by the Centre for Public Policy and Regions (CPPR), calling for private sector take over of Scottish Water, as bizarre, saying that Scotland’s water is a national asset - not a pool for multinationals to drain profits from.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said
“This report is simply another attempt by consultants to exploit the financial crisis to advocate privatisation. The CPPR report correctly says that Scottish Water is a ‘notable success’, but then, bizarrely, goes on to recommend failed private sector models like PPP/ PFI or even privatisation. Given the ‘success’ of private sector banks recently this sounds like the recipe for disaster, poorer service and higher water charges.

“The report says that the Scottish Government can no longer afford the small borrowing line it provides to Scottish Water, and it should be spent elsewhere on ‘front line’ services. Since when is providing quality water supplies and removing sewage not a front line service? All their ‘alternatives’ are failed privatising schemes.

  “Scottish Water gave up on PFI some 12 years ago for good reasons - because it costs a fortune. Even the pro-privatisation Water Industry Commission has stated that the schemes are not cost effective.
“Privatisation or mutualisation would mean selling off public assets built up over many years, at taxpayers expense, at a knock down price. Add to that dividends, profits, fat cat salaries and consultancy fees - all to be funded by the water charge payer. Ask any fan of Manchester Utd if they think bringing in a new debt laden owner is a good business model!.

“There appears to be no logical rationale behind this rehashed report. The real reason for it is that the usual suspects just hate a successful public sector model. It goes against their dogma - it doesn't fit the ideology.

“People want Scotland’s water to remain a public service – not a pool that multi nationals drain for profit."


Note for Editors:
1) The unions have produced a discussion paper It’s Scotland’s Water outlining ways to greater accountability for Scottish Water. It is available on the UNISON website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/water/scotland's_water.pdf

For Further Information Please Contact:
Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122 409 (m)
Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729 (m)