Remember when John McDonnell claimed that nationalising the water industry wouldn’t cost taxpayers a penny? Well, wonks at the Social Market Foundation disagree. Drawing on data from academic studies, Ofwat, the London Stock Exchange and the annual accounts of water companies, the SMF have found that nationalising the water industry’s assets would initially cost £90 billion, more than the current education budget and a 5% increase in government debt levels, plus another £100 billion over the next 25 years to meet their investment requirements. Acquiring them for less than the market price would cost more in the long term as investors flee fearing further nationalisations. Guido enjoyed McDonnell’s tetchy response to the report, accusing the centrist SMF of being “right-wing”, implying they fiddled the figures at the behest of the water industry and taking a pop at its director James Kirkup:
“This is a report by a right-wing think tank, led by the former political editor of the Telegraph, and commissioned on behalf of the water industry. Labour has been clear that as established by legal precedent it will be parliament that decides the price to compensate shareholders. With returns significantly higher than bond yields the taxpayer will be better off following the return of water to public ownership.”
Who you gonna believe?