Following the Government statement on the financial resilience of the water industry, Philip Dunne warned that Opposition plans to take all the water companies ’ profits to invest in capital expenditure would undermine the vital private capital for investment needed to tackle the sewage overflow problem.
Also, listen to Philip Dunne on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme here (news item starts at 2:10:08, Philip Dunne at 2:15:02)
On financial resilience, has the Minister taken the opportunity to consider the hotchpotch of policies coming from Opposition Front Benchers on the subject? Under their prescription, they would seek to take all the profit of water companies to invest in capital expenditure. That would undermine the financial resilience of those companies that rely on private capital for investment in tackling this problem. In the one part of the country where Labour does have responsibility—Wales—has she noticed that the sewerage overflows are almost double the rate per overflow pipe as in England?
I thank my right hon. Friend for pointing that out; I cannot support more strongly what he said. We have a private system, and Ofwat says that it is financially resilient. We need investment in these companies to make them function properly. Obviously, we need to hold the companies to account, but we need to see enormous investment. Everything in the Government’s plan for water, including the storm overflow discharge reduction plan, is fully costed. We are not pulling the wool over people's eyes; we are telling them clearly what this will mean and how it will deliver the water services that we need.