Shares in the privatised utilities for customers

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Customers should be given shares in the privatised utilities, according to a key adviser to the Government. Giving the public a direct stake in the businesses would be the best way of spreading the benefits of the efficiency gains made since the firms were sold off, said Brian Pomeroy, a senior partner at accountants Deloitte & Touche, and author of the government White Paper on utility regulation.

He argued in a paper published by the Social Market Foundation, an independent think-tank, that money earned from cost savings could be used to buy shares for customer unit trusts, which would be allocated on the basis of how much gas, electricity and water they used. The shares could then be used to help pay utility bills or else build up an equity stake. "This is not to suggest that the privatised utilities should now be turned over, local, stock and barrel, to customer ownership," said Mr Pomeroy. "But simply that some element of equity would be a valuable component in the relationship between customer and company, particularly when set in the context of 'stake-holder' ideas more generally."