MOST of the reforms I propose are suggested to me by constituents. Last week, a constituent wrote to me over the monopoly position United Utilities has in our area in supplying water and providing sewage services. Why, my constituent asked?
The case the Thatcher government made for privatising the Utilities – gas, electricity and water – was that competition would bring down the prices. That was the promise.
I have not yet been able to find out what the reasons are for water to be treated differently from gas and electricity. I’m still burrowing.
I cannot see why supplying water is different from supplying gas or electricity. There is a national grid for all three services. Gas and electricity companies sell supplies on the basis that they put back into the national system what they sell. What works for gas and electricity could surely be made to work for water.
But my constituent set me thinking about how we as consumers can get the best deal from the privatised utility companies.
Cool Earth, a rainforest charity I helped to establish, is generously supported by an energy company called Ovo.
Ovo has a fair price pledge whereby they guarantee to offer customers the cheapest electricity and / or gas deals. And, at the end of the contract period, will automatically proactively offer the next best deal for their customer.
Why shouldn’t the Government compel gas and electricity companies to supply the same service to all customers as Ovo does? And include the water supply in this initiative?