A SUBSTANTIAL majority of the UK public support bringing key utility services into the public sector, extraordinary new polling has found.

The Survation poll of more than 4000 British adults found majority support for nationalised services across the board, regardless of political voting history, age, or region.

Commissioned by campaign group We Own It, the results show that “privatisation has failed”, the group’s director Cat Hobbs said.

The headline results show substantial majorities of the British public in favour of water, bus, rail, the NHS, energy, and the Royal Mail all being run by the public sector.

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The polling found that across the UK:

  • 69.3% want publicly owned water, against 19.2% who would prefer it to be privatised
  • 64.8% want publicly owned buses, against 23.1% who would prefer it to be privatised
  • 66.9% want publicly owned rail, against 21.3% who would prefer it to be privatised
  • 78.1% want a publicly owned NHS, against 12.4% who would prefer it to be privatised
  • 65.7% want publicly owned energy, against 21.9% who would prefer it to be privatised
  • 68.3% want a publicly owned Royal Mail, against 21.0% who would prefer it to be privatised

The remaining respondents put “don’t know” when asked if the services should be run by the public or private sector.

The National:

Survation’s Carl Shoben wrote on Twitter: “Political class. Are the public wrong?

“In probably the largest poll sample yet for @We_OwnIt, most of the public support key utilities being in the public sector, including a majority of Conservative voters.”

Among Tory voters, support for bringing these six key services into the public sector never dipped below the 58.0% recorded for buses.

A total of 62.1% of people who voted Conservative in the last General Election supported energy being publicly owned, while 76.9% backed the NHS staying in public hands.

Of the 4396 UK adults who responded to the Survation poll, 1316 identified themselves as having voted for the Tories in 2019.

Among Labour voters, 1110 of whom responded to the poll, support for nationalised energy was at 74.7%, with just 16.1% opposing the idea.

Despite the popular support, Keir Starmer has U-turned on pledges he made to push for “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water” during his bid to take over as party boss.

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On the back of the survey results, We Own It called for the UK Government to turn Bulb into a publicly owned supply company. The energy firm went bust in November 2021 and has been run by an administrator ever since.

Rival firm Octopus has asked for £1bn to take control of the company, but the Tory previously declined to comment "due to commercial sensitivity".

The Survation polling also found support for publicly owned utilities was generally higher in Scotland – where water and rail are already nationalised – than elsewhere in the UK, although the Scottish subsample was only 365 people.

We Own It director 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 around the world and we need to take them back.

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

“We call on the government to bring energy, water, public transport and the Royal Mail into public ownership, and to reinstate our NHS as a fully public service. Labour and all opposition parties must commit to public ownership. The clue’s in the name – public services are supposed to work for us, the public.”

The Survation poll was conducted by online panel from July 25 to August 1, 2022.

The full tables can be found on the pollster's website here.