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24 August 2022

How utility companies have become public enemy number one

The cost-of-living crisis has fed a nationwide desire to bring energy companies back into public ownership.

By Ben Walker

Utility companies have never been popular. The best a water, gas or electricity provider can hope for is passive contentment from their customers and apathy in the public eye. In 2020 that was very much the common view.

Now the share of Britons neither happy nor unhappy with the country’s utility services has crashed from 40 per cent to just 14 per cent. And the proportion who feel very unfavourable has surged to a record high, from nine per cent at the end of 2020, to 21 per cent at the end of 2021, to 49 per cent in the closing half of August this year.

Plot voters' resentment of utility companies against the rise in fuel bills, or the press coverage of rising fuel bills, and a correlation would be clear. The cost-of-living crisis has transformed public perceptions of how the government is handling the economy, with polls reiterating a nationwide desire to bring energy companies back into public ownership.

[See also: Can interest rate rises reduce the UK’s “astronomical” inflation?]

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