McDonnell: £37bn dividends paid to shareholders of privatised firms since 2010

John McDonnell
John McDonnell

Privatised companies have paid out £37 billion in dividends to shareholders since 2010, according to Labour research.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say the money could have been invested in public services as he restates Labour’s plan to nationalise key British utilities and infrastructure.

The research, conducted in consultation with the independent House of Commons Library, shows that in 2017 privatised firms paid out a total of £4.8 billion in dividends.

According to the analysis, since 2010 more than £10 billion has been received by National Grid shareholders, £6.3 billion by BT shareholders, and £5.2 billion by investors in Centrica, which owns British Gas.

Train operators and privatised water firms also appear on the list compiled by Labour.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has set out plans to take back control of trains, the Royal Mail, energy companies and water firms, which critics have claimed would take the British economy back to the 1970s.

But at a conference in Lincoln, Mr McDonnell will say the dividend payments show that money which could have been invested in improving services is lining investors’ pockets.

“These figures show what could have gone into investment in these public services in order to expand and improve them or keep their charges down,” he will say.

“The last seven years of austerity has seen working families suffer from stagnant wages not being able to keep up with prices of items like energy bills, and underfunded public services – yet billions has gone into the hands of shareholders.

“The next Labour government will call an end to the privatisation of our public sector, and we will look to bring back into public ownership many of the vital services sold off by the Tories, which are undermining the living standards of millions of working households.”

The shadow chancellor is speaking at a conference to mark the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest – a copy of which survives in Lincoln.

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