1 February 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems plan to block taxpayer money for water companies unless they commit to end sewage discharges
  • Raab: PM should publish Cabinet Office advice and give evidence to the inquiry
  • Raab denial: Prime Minister is taking the public for fools

Lib Dems plan to block taxpayer money for water companies unless they commit to end sewage discharges

Liberal Democrat MP slams “a blank cheque written with taxpayers’ money to fund polluting, profiteering firms”.

Today, the Liberal Democrats are seeking to ensure the Government’s new Infrastructure Bank does not invest in water companies unless they produce a costed and time-limited plan to end sewage discharges into local rivers.

MPs will vote on a new Bill which would enshrine into law the UK Infrastructure Bank. Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has tabled an amendment to ensure strict sewage discharge conditions are placed on water companies before they can receive funds from the proposed Infrastructure Bank.

The Liberal Democrat MP slammed taxpayers’ funds going to water companies as “scandalous”, amid water companies paying their executives millions of pounds in bonuses, while permitting voluminous sewage discharges.

Analysis of Companies House records by the Liberal Democrats found that the twenty-two water bosses paid themselves £24.8 million, including £14.7 million in bonuses, benefits and incentives in 2021/2022. This is despite destructive sewage discharges in rivers and on seafronts, harming both wildlife and swimmers.

Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton & Honiton Richard Foord said:

It would be a scandal if taxpayers’ money was given to the same firms that continue to poison our rivers and coastlines.

Without adding strict sewage conditions to the bill, it will be a blank cheque for taxpayers’ money to fund these polluting, profiteering firms.

These are the very same water companies that line their executives’ pockets with bonuses worth millions of pounds. Now they expect public money to bail out the companies and patch up the leaking pipes they’ve long neglected.

My own constituency has suffered from regular sewage gushing onto beaches and into our rivers. Until that stops, the Government shouldn’t be throwing taxpayers’ money at water companies.

Raab: PM should publish Cabinet Office advice and give evidence to the inquiry

In response to the ongoing Raab scandal, the Liberal Democrats are calling on Rishi Sunak to publish the advice given to him by the Cabinet Office and give evidence to the Tolley Inquiry.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Daisy Cooper MP, said:

It’s time for the Prime Minister to come out of hiding and face the music. The public deserves to know the truth about what he knew and when, including the full disclosure of any advice given to him by the Cabinet Office.

Raab is just the latest of Sunak’s appointees who has been caught up in scandal.

If Rishi Sunak was serious about integrity, he would give the Tolley Inquiry the full cooperation it deserves, by providing his own formal evidence.

Raab denial: Prime Minister is taking the public for fools

Responding to news that Rishi Sunak’s press secretary would not confirm whether he was aware of informal allegations against Raab when appointing him, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP, said:

Once again, it appears as though the Prime Minister is taking the public for fools and trying to wriggle his way out of giving a straight answer.

If it turns out that the Prime Minister has indeed turned a blind eye to informal allegations of bullying, just so he can appoint who he wants to, it would be shameful.

The ethics adviser should urgently open an investigation into what Sunak knew and when, when he made his Ministerial appointments.

If Sunak has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.

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One Comment

  • Regulators of the privatised utilities set allowed revenues (the price they can charge customers) for the water companies, but these are conditional on meeting performance targets – they can fine companies that fail. Fines can’t be passed on to customers, and have to be paid by the shareholders, in the form of reduced dividends. The regulatory model is designed to exert shareholder pressure on CEOs, because if dividends, and in turn share vales, drop, it hurts CEOs and other directors – their bonuses are dependent on avoiding fines which would impact dividends (directors always hold large numbers of shares, so this matters to them).
    Huge bonuses, irrelevant as a proportion of customers’ bills, are potentially useful to regulators; people work harder to meet targets if the bonuses they are protecting are measured in millions of pounds.
    This means it is the regulator (Ofwat in this case) which is responsible for ensuring consumers’ demands for improvement are met. Decades of underinvestment, for example in sewage treatment, suggests that Ofwat have not being doing their job. The Ofwat director is appointed by the government, so the ministers who have for decades overseen the failure of Ofwat to demand improvements must be suppressing a wry smile when they see water company bosses carry the can.

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