Despite water being an everyday necessity, bill payers have no say over who pipes it to their taps, where they pay their tax and who pockets the profits.

My one-year anniversary as MP this summer will coincide with the publication of the annual report and accounts of my local water company, Yorkshire Water.

The company is set to announce that they will no longer register their subsidiary companies in the Cayman Islands, this means that they don’t currently pay UK taxes.

In other circumstances, a private company choosing to behave more responsibly might be cause for celebration. However, in the case of water companies like Yorkshire Water, their efforts to shut down operations in global tax havens just highlights the scale of the problem in the UK’s water industry.

Private ownership has allowed Thames Water, Anglian, Southern and Yorkshire Water to pay no corporation tax in 2016. The industry’s tax affairs and billions of pounds of debt are impossible to scrutinise either. Despite water being an everyday necessity, bill payers have no say over who pipes it to their taps, where they pay their tax and who pockets the profits.

Privatisation hasn’t delivered better results either.

As a member of the Environmental Audit Committee I am shocked by some of the tales of pollution from the water sector. Last July, Yorkshire Water was fined £600,000 for allowing sewage to leak into local watercourses, killing fish and damaging water quality.

I was proud to be elected on an ambitious Labour manifesto in 2017. Decades of privatisation have not delivered for my constituents, the environment or the public purse, and we’re committed to bringing key industries such as water, energy networks and rail franchises into public ownership.

I’m looking forward to exploring democratic models of public ownership in the water sector, building on the ideas in the Co-operative Party’s Ownership Matters’ report published recently. For example, I have spoken with members of the Shadow Treasury team about ways we can learn from Welsh Water’s mutual model whom I have long admired working in the co-operative and social enterprise sector in England prior to becoming an MP.

Ownership Matters
Democratic Public Ownership for the 21st Century

I have a long history with the co-operative movement—I like the idea that we can have a different kind of economy, neither market-driven capitalism nor command and control by the state. One where employees, consumers and community are at the heart of decision-making instead of profit.

Mutual models in water companies creates democratic structures where bill payers and workers set priorities for investment in infrastructure and the environment. They mean customers, not shareholders, setting executive pay and sharing profits