Calls have been made for public ownership of United Utilities after it was revealed that the company's shareholders have made more than £1.2 billion in just five years.
Water union GMB said that United Utilities shareholders have made more than £1.2 billion in just five years.
The privatised water company showered shareholders with a total of £263 million in 2017 alone, and is preparing for a record payout next month.
The calls come as customers in Lancashire face a hosepipe ban starting next weekend.
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The figures come from a joint investigation into the accounts by GMB and Corporate Watch as part of GMB’s Take Back the Tap Campaign to bring England’s privatised water industry back into public ownership.
Consumer water bills in England and Wales have increased by 40 per cent above inflation since privatisation in 1989 according to a report by the National Audit Office.
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Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “Forking out billions to shareholders, while bills rocket and trillions of litres of water are wasted shows just how broken the system is.
“We all need water, it’s not an optional extra, it’s absurd that something we all depend on is in private hands delivering eye watering pay outs instead of being run for the public good.
“That’s why GMB is calling for the water industry to be brought back into public ownership.”