Deal caused trade union outrage – but minister claims “major savings”
MINISTER KEITH BROWN celebrated the “major savings” in the PS350m privatisation of Scottish water contracts alongside corporate group Anglian Water yesterday [Wednesday 2 March].
Brown, cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities, was visiting the company’s Edinburgh base to welcome the controversial group’s vow to act as a socially responsible business.
The privatisation of the contract, previously held by public group Business Stream, led to criticism from trade unions due to Anglian’s history of tax avoidance, pollution and excessive corporate pay.
Brown, speaking at the launch, said: “Of course it was a competitive contract so there are major savings to be made as a result of the contract, but today interestingly I’m here because Anglian Water are signing up to both the ‘business pledge’ and to the commitment to a living wage, two things which are very important to the Scottish Government.”
Tony Donnelly, chair of Anglian Water business, added: “We’ll be looking after every school, university, prison, council building, the Scottish Parliament, really anything that you walk into and is a public building.”
In 2012 Anglian made a profit of PS363m, but paid only PS1m in tax. PS571m from the company went towards debt repayment and shareholder dividends in the same year.
The firm used the Channel Islands tax haven to avoid tax , was previously branded a “significant repeat offender” for pollution, and was criticised for “corporate greed” due to an unequal wage structure.
Brown and Donnelly poured saltire-clad water jugs for the cameras to celebrate the deal.
Anglian’s office in Peterborough was also decked out in Scottish flag bunting.
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Picture courtesy of Scottish Government