Widening the Ownership of our Economy
Labour Manifesto 2017:
Britain is a long-established democracy. But the distribution of ownership of the country’s economy means that decisions about our economy are often made by a narrow elite. More democratic ownership structures would help our economy deliver for the many and lead to a fairer distribution of wealth.
In government, Labour would give more people a stake – and a say – in our economy by doubling the size of the co-operative sector and introducing a “right to own,” making employees the buyer of first refusal when the company they work for is up for sale. We will act to ‘insource’ our public and local council services as preferred providers.
Many basic goods and services have been taken out of democratic control through privatisation. This has often led to higher prices and poorer quality, as prices are raised to pay out dividends. For example, water bills have increased 40 per cent since privatisation, and our private energy providers overcharged customers by £2 billion in 2015. In private hands, Royal Mail has increased stamp and parcel charges, and failed to meet its customer service obligations, while its owners trade shares at significant profit. The Conservative Government’s privatisation of Royal Mail was a historic mistake, selling off another national asset on the cheap.
Across the world, countries are taking public utilities back into public ownership. Labour will learn from these experiences and bring key utilities back into public ownership to deliver lower prices, more accountability and a more sustainable economy. We will:
- Bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire.
- Regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator license conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system.
- Replace our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies.
- Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail at the earliest opportunity.
Public ownership will benefit consumers, ensuring that their interests are put first and that there is democratic accountability for the service.