Water UK said 6m pension pots would be hit by the Labour Party’s leaked plans to take water firms back into public hands for a cut price, and that less than a third of people support the move given that statistic.
Research by the Global Infrastructure Investor Association identified 67 UK pension funds with investment in the English water industry. These have 4m members from public sector schemes such as Greater Manchester's scheme for local authority workers, and 1.8m members from private sector schemes including those from BT and Tesco. “They face losing potentially thousands of pounds if Labour goes ahead with plans to force through a cut-price takeover of the industry,” Water UK said.
Meanwhile a poll conducted with a 2,000 strong representative sample of the population on 10-12 May by ComRes for Water UK asked: “The Labour Party's proposal for nationalising the water industry would mean the government paying less for water companies than they are worth, which would reduce the value of nearly 6m people's pensions which are invested in water companies, including both private and public sector workers' pensions. How positive or negative do you feel about this consequence of nationalisation?” 22% of respondents said they were positive about it, 43% were negative about it, and 34% were neutral.
ComRes then asked: “If this were to happen as a result of nationalisation, to what extent would you support or oppose the nationalisation of water and sewerage services in England?” 29% would support water nationalisation, 46% would oppose it, and 25% didn’t know.
Water UK contrasted this with the 83% support for water nationalisation, often quoted by supporters of public ownership, from a poll carried out in summer 2017 long before details about Labour’s water takeover plans emerged.
A document reportedly circulated among the party’s leadership team said shareholders would be offered compensation of less than £20bn, £24bn shy of the £44bn market value. The sum reflects the money already put into firms, but not the value of future profits.