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Private Water Shareholders Make £6.5 Billion

Thursday, July 26, 2018



Dividends worth £1.4 billion were paid out in 2017 alone, GMB Union figures show

An investigation by GMB, the water union, has revealed the nine privatised water company shareholders have made more than £6.5 billion in just five years.

England’s privatised water companies showered their shareholders with a total of £1.4 billion in 2017 alone. [See note 1 for breakdown by Water Company and year]

The figures come from a joint investigation into the accounts by GMB and Corporate Watch [2] as part of GMB’s Take Back the Tap Campaign to bring England’s privatised water industry back into public ownership.

The figures show the average dividend and interest accrued for shareholders by each privatised water company in 2017 was £158 million.

Meanwhile, as millions face life under a hosepipe ban, GMB revealed 2.4 billion litres of water is wasted through leaks every single day in England. [3]

Last month, GMB figures showed the CEOs of the nine privatised water company trousered a whopping £58 million in salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits over the past five years. [4]

While shareholders pocketed these eye-watering sums, consumer water bills in England and Wales have increased by 40% above inflation since privatisation in 1989 according to a report by the National Audit Office [5]

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“Forking out billions to shareholders, while bills rocket and trillions of litres of water are wasted shows just how broken the system is.

“We all need water, it’s not an optional extra, it’s absurd that something we all depend on is in private hands delivering eye watering pay outs instead of being run for the public good.

“That’s why GMB is calling for the water industry to be brought back into public ownership.”


Contact: GMB Press office 07958 156846

Notes to editors:

[1] Contact GMB press office for copy of spreadsheet




[5] National Audit Office report: The Economic Regulation of the Water Sector, page 9 (2015)                                                                             


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