VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 05 August 2010, in Blog

A recent article on Social Edge http://www.socialedge.org/ posed a question about social enterprise/entrepreneurship and social innovation being essentially Anglo Saxon in character – and here’s me remembering the 1980s when English folk used to travel to talk to all sorts of Scots, Celts, Irish, Welsh and Gaels to discover what social innovation/regeneration/enterprise/community business was all about!

Anyway, the Welsh are back in vogue.

The SNP are in schtook over what to do with Scottish Water so “not for profit” rears its ugly little head again and we are apparently going to have a “non privatised” business that remains in “public ownership”. No share capital but debt financing being the only feasible business model then.

Disingenuity and occasionally ingenuity are the hallmarks of success in politics so lets be fair here. Swinney et al can’t say that Scottish Water will be sold to those nasty bankers and capitalists but they need to raise money – fast. What better than using terms like “public ownership” and “not for profit” to cover the truth.

If Scottish Water is to follow the Welsh model, the prospectus should say the following:

For Sale – A water company that must make (but never mention the word) profit. Profits will be reinvested in infrastructure and lower bills – after meeting the cost of long term debt finance. Governance to be managed through a company limited by guarantee – positions will be filled by a broad range of Scots – not just the usual Councillors and civic society leaders although we’ll have to have some of these folk to keep the nomenklatura happy. Executive salaries/bonuses to be in the upper quartile of the industry. There now – would you back that? Check out http://www.dwrcymru.com/index.asp

Personally, I’d prefer the following:

The Government of Scotland has announced that Scottish Water will be mutualised and will operate on the basis of what is best for Scottish consumers, businesses and our environment. Governance will be a co-operative model with individuals resident in Scotland forming the membership of the business. No sitting politician will be eligible for election and a (geographic) regional structure will be included in the governance structure of the business.

The Government will not spend £Ms on consultants and is meeting with Scottish representatives of the Co-operative Movement to discuss the way ahead. The term “not for profit” will never be used to describe the business.

Executive salaries will be limited to no more than 15 times the lowest salary of any employee. No bonuses will be paid to any employee. Long term debt finance will not be secured through any bank that does not meet our ethical standards – TBA. There now – would you back that?