Sam Bowman's comments on fossil fuels feature in City AM

Deputy Director at the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, has featured in City AM for his opinion on fossil fuel divestment.

“Divestment is deeply misguided. At best, it has no effect on share prices. At worst, it transfers wealth to less scrupulous investors who benefit by paying less for oil stocks,” Sam Bowman, deputy director at free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, told City A.M.

ASI report "The Green Noose" features in The Times

ASI report The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform has featured in in The Times:

The problem of house price inflation could be transformed tomorrow if a small proportion of the land that surrounds our major cities was released for housebuilding. The Adam Smith Institute estimates that reclassifying just 1.5 per cent of the nation’s green belt would be enough to build 1.4 million new homes.

Read the full article here.

The ASI report, The Green Noose: An analysis of Green Belts and proposals for reform, looks at the Green Belt’s impact on England’s housing shortage. After a comprehensive review of the causes of the housing crisis, it concludes that the planning structure is out of date and in need of radical reform.

New ASI paper "Utility Gains" features in the Daily Mail and the Express

The latest ASI paper  “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities”, was featured in both the Daily Mail and the Express this morning, in articles covering the expansion of BT and Corbyn's plans to nationalise the railways, respectively.

From the Express:

Increased threats of strikes, less reliable services and monstrous inefficiencies are just some of the crippling implications to a Government-run railway, according to top economist Dr Eamonn Butler.

In a report for for independent thinktank The Adam Smith Institute, Dr Butler says the new Labour leader's plans to bring back British Rail are 'dismal' and would cause the network to stagnate.

Read the article here.

And from the Daily Mail:

Privatisation may not have been perfect but it is infinitely better than the heavy handed state control advocated by Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes.

Nevertheless, the findings of a study by the laissez-faire Adam Smith Institute should be a must-read, not just for the Shadow Cabinet, but also some of the privatised utilities which still behave like monopolists.

As a private company BT has been far more adventurous and innovative that it could ever have been in the public sector. But it still acts as if it has the God-given right to be Britain’s dominant telecoms company.

Read the full article here.

A new Adam Smith Institute paper, “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities” assesses the various utility sales of telecoms, gas, water and electricity companies during the 1980’s and 1990’s and looks at how government, shareholders and customers fared since the privatisation process.

Click here to access the full press release.

Ben Southwood for BBC 5 Live discussing renationalisation of the railways

Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, spoke to BBC Five about the potential drawbacks of renationalising the railways in Britain. He argues that train usage has increased profoundly since privatisation occurred, and that other forms of transport are providing adequate competition for the sector. Listen to the full interview here. (Starts 01:15:00)

 

 

 

The Financial Times features an article on new ASI paper "Utility Gains"

The Financial Times has written a piece on the new ASI paper “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities”, explaining how the paper finds that there is no benefit to nationalising utilities.  

Utility privatisation in the UK is “not perfect” and benefits for customers are not obvious, but shareholders and the government have done well financially from it and investment has surged, a leading free market think-tank has concluded. In an attempt to rebut criticism about the benefits of privatisation voiced by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Adam Smith Institute has drawn up a paper examining the sale of electricity, gas, water, the railways and telecoms in the 1980s and 1990s.

 

Read the full article here.

 

A new Adam Smith Institute paper, “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities” assesses the various utility sales of telecoms, gas, water and electricity companies during the 1980’s and 1990’s and looks at how government, shareholders and customers fared since the privatisation process.

Click here to access the full press release.

New ASI paper "Utility Gains" features in City AM

The Adam Smith Institute's latest paper, "Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Privatised Utilities" was mentioned in a City AM piece, as a critique of Corbyn's plans to renationalise the railways, along with other parts of the utility sector.

The Adam Smith Institute published a new report over the weekend arguing that, based on the outcomes of utility privatisation for the government, shareholders and customers since the 1980s, there is “no case for renationalising the utility sector”.

“It is clear that while utility privatisation is not a perfect solution, it is infinitely better than stultifying public sector ownership,” said Nigel Hawkins, the author of the report and a senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.

He added: “It is inconceivable that the massive level of utility investment over the last quarter century could have been undertaken if public ownership had continued.”

Adam Smith Institue director  Eamonn Butler agreed, adding: “Some of us remember what public services were like before privatization – the three-month wait to get a phone line, the curled-up British Rail sandwiches, and the annual power cuts from an electricity board that couldn’t cope. We do not want to go back to the dismal lack of customer service of nationalised services.”

A new Adam Smith Institute paper, “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities” assesses the various utility sales of telecoms, gas, water and electricity companies during the 1980’s and 1990’s and looks at how government, shareholders and customers fared since the privatisation process.

Click here to access the full press release.

Exclusive: ASI paper "Utility Gains" features in the Sunday Telegraph

The Sunday Telegraph ran an exclusive piece on new ASI paper: “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities”.

Their remarks came as the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) think tank warned Mr Corbyn’s support of nationalisation could imperil Britain’s utilities.

“Investment in utilities is now much higher than before privatisation,” it said in a report, with water companies and National Grid investing a combined £7.4bn a year, compared with the “woefully inadequate” funds they received in government hands.

Nigel Hawkins, the report's author, said: “Privatisation is infinitely better than stultifying public sector ownership. It is inconceivable that the massive level of utility investment over the last quarter century could have been undertaken if public ownership had continued.”

Selling off state owned assets had delivered "notable benefits" for the government, shareholders and customers, which "manifestly outweighed" the costs of privatisation, the report claimed.

Mr Hawkins added: "It is significant that the UK’s privatisation policy was adopted by many other countries, most notably in the EU, where swathes of the telecoms and electricity industries were privatised."

“We do not want to go back to the dismal lack of customer service of nationalised services,” said ASI director Eamonn Butler. “It is true that some utility prices have risen - but prices had to rise to fund the investment in networks that frankly had been allowed to decay and crumble for 40 years.”

Read the article here.

A new Adam Smith Institute paper, “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities” assesses the various utility sales of telecoms, gas, water and electricity companies during the 1980’s and 1990’s and looks at how government, shareholders and customers fared since the privatisation process.

Click here to access the full press release.

Press Release: No case for renationalising utility sector, new paper finds

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Head of Communications Kate Andrews: kate@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Based on the outcomes of utility privatisation for the government, shareholders and customers since the 1980’s, there is no case for renationalising the utility sector, a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute has found.

The paper, “Utility Gains: Assessing the Record of Britain’s Privatized Utilities” assesses the various utility sales of telecoms, gas, water and electricity companies during the 1980's and 1990's and looks at how government, shareholders and customers fared since the privatisation process. The paper argues that the following benefits occurred for each stakeholder:

For the government – various general benefits accrued, such as a pronounced surge in investment. It benefited financially, both from one-off sales proceeds and from ongoing sizeable Corporation Tax receipts.

For shareholders, like pension funds, have generally done very well, with many privatizations – particularly the 12 RECs – heavily outperforming the FTSE 100. Privatized water stocks, too, have powered ahead. There are a few notable exceptions to this, such as Railtrack, British Energy and British Telecom.

For utility customers the financial benefits have been less tangible – in a period of massively rising wholesale prices there has been little to pass on. But investment has been much higher and much-needed improvements in customer service have been developed. Telecoms prices have actually fallen materially, while domestic gas, water and electricity prices have all risen sharply in real terms. However, domestic energy prices have risen mainly due to much higher wholesale gas costs – not because of private sector ownership.

The paper finds investment in utilities is now much higher than before privatization, especially in the electricity distribution and water sectors. In the latter case, substantial real price increases have helped finance this investment which had been woefully inadequate prior to privatization in 1989. Over the 25-year period, roughly £110 billion has been invested in the water sector, with the overwhelming majority of this sum being spent by the ten privatized water companies. Currently, over £4 billion per year is being invested.

The paper argues that the privatisation of utilities also created an innovation spike, specifically in the telecoms sector. Privatising British Telecom in 1984, it argues, created a new industry as the staid former Post Office subsidiary started to participate in an international marketplace, in which mobile telephony was developing at a rapid pace. Within a few years, Vodafone had become the pioneer of mobile telephony to such an extent that, by 1999, it had become the fourth most valuable company in history within just two decades of its founding. Had British Telecom remained state-owned, it is probable that the broadband rollout would have been delayed even further.

Author of the report and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, Nigel Hawkins, said:

In the light of recent criticisms of privatisation – including Jeremy Corbyn's call to renationalise utilities and transport – this paper aimed to assess how the three major stakeholders actually fared in the sweeping privatisation of utilities throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s.

It is clear that while utility privatization is not a perfect solution, it is infinitely better than stultifying public sector ownership. It is inconceivable that the massive level of utility investment over the last quarter century could have been undertaken if public ownership had continued.

Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, added:

Some of us remember what public services were like before privatization – the three-month wait to get a phone line, the curled-up British Rail sandwiches, and the annual power cuts from an Electricity Board that couldn't cope. We do not want to go back to the dismal lack of customer service of nationalized services.

It is true that some utility prices have risen – though at least you can shop around for the best deal these days. But prices had to rise to fund the investment in networks that frankly, under nationalization, had been allowed to decay and crumble for forty years.

The old nationalized water industry aimed to be able to resist a once-in-a-decade drought. Soon after privatization, we had a once-in-a-century drought, and made clear to the companies that even that was unacceptable. Our water industry has raised its reliability ten times, and its quality by even more – but people quickly forget what things used to be like.

Notes to Editors:
Nigel Hawkins is a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute and an investment analyst, who specializes primarily in the electricity, gas, water and telecoms sectors. He has worked in the City since 1988, notably for Hoare Govett (now RBS), Yamaichi and Williams de Broe (now Evolution). Prior to joining the City, he worked for six years in politics, including three years as Political Correspondence Secretary to Lady Thatcher at 10 Downing Street. The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Is Corbyn a Threat? | Kate Andrews takes part in Conservative Home's panel discussion

Kate Andrews, Head of Communications at the Adam Smith Institute, took part in a panel discussion for Conservative Home on how the Conservative Party should respond to Corbyn and his new direction for the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn’s political philosophy is almost completely cancelled out by the history books. Talking about inequality grabs attention, but his policy solutions – re-nationalising utilities and ‘maximum wages’ – are the stuff of 1970’s nightmares.

The real threat to the centre right is not Corbyn’s regressive philosophy but rather the strength and resolve of its own leaders. The moderately left-leaning ramblings of Miliband quickly twisted the arm of the Conservative Party during the election, pushing them into irresponsible pledges that ring-fenced heavy-spending sectors, doubled free hours of childcare, and threw unaccounted billions at the NHS. That weak-will even trickled into the Budget; the National Living Wage transformed the “party of working people” into the party willing to threaten at least 60,000 jobs to beat the left at its own game.

The centre right has nothing to fear if its leaders stand strong for a pro-growth, pro-business agenda. But if Miliband had them dodging left and running for the hills, it’s worrying to think how much further they’ll sprint in the face of Corbyn.

Read the full discussion here.