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Most people support public ownership of utilities – even Tory voters, poll finds

We Own It campaign group says ‘Labour and all opposition parties must commit to public ownership’

MOST people support public ownership of crucial utilities such as energy and water, according to new research published today.

Campaign group We Own It says that its survey of 4,300 adults shows overwhelming backing for renationalisation, even among Tory voters.

More than three out of five members of the public — and a similar number of Conservatives — want to see publicly owned utilities, the group says in a new report.

Tory ministers face growing pressure to act after experts predicted that annual gas and electricity costs could top an eye-watering £5,000 by April next year. 

Privatisation has been a key plank of Tory Party policy since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the 1980s, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has repeatedly rejected calls for renationalisation, despite overwhelming support for motions to the contrary at last year’s party conference.

We Own It director Cat Hobbs said: “Privatisation has failed for nearly 40 years. Politicians can’t ignore the truth any longer: these monopolies are a cash cow for shareholders and we need to take them back.

“We need energy companies that don’t rip us off, public transport that works for passengers and water companies that don’t pour sewage into our rivers.”

The poll, conducted by Survation, also showed very strong support for public ownership of buses, the railways, the NHS and Royal Mail.

“Labour and all opposition parties must commit to public ownership,” Ms Hobbs said. “The clue’s in the name: public services are supposed to work for us, the public.”

In a speech today, Sir Keir is expected to call for the energy price cap to be frozen to help families deal with stagnating wages and inflation that is running at a 40-year high.

The cap — the maximum average amount suppliers can charge customers in England, Wales and Scotland — is currently set at £1,971 a year, but market analysts expect energy regulator Ofgem to raise it above £3,500 in October and then beyond £4,000 in January, as wholesale prices soar. 

Few details have been released ahead of Sir Keir’s address, but the Labour leader told the Sunday Mirror newspaper yesterday that his party has a plan that “meets the scale of this crisis.”

Tory ministers have pledged a £400 grant for every household to help with spiralling energy costs, but opposition parties and unions have described the sum as inadequate and warned that millions of families could be pushed to to the brink of financial oblivion. 

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