Margaret Thatcher’s influential energy legacy
Margaret Thatcher, UK prime minister from 1979-90, who died in on 8 April, brought profound changes to the country’s business life and particularly to the energy sector
Margaret Thatcher’s government came to power with an agenda to roll-back the influence of the state, and the energy industries were its first targets. When she took office, the gas, electricity and coal industries were entirely state-owned and there was a large state oil company. When she left, all of the energy industries except coal were entirely in private hands, with coal following in 1994.
While most agree that her government’s transfer of state energy assets to private companies has brought long-term benefits, some say the regulation of privately-owned energy industries was inadequately managed, and still is. Although privatisation brought greater efficiencies – and lower bills for consumers for many years – gas and electricity supply are now in the hands of just a few large companies, with a lack of real competition.
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