Friday, 19 February 2016

Conservative asset-stripping

The Thatcher government sold off the Georgian silver, the nice furniture and the Canalettos; Blair-Brown did a sale and lease-back deal on the land and gardens; and now Cameron and Osborne are flogging off the fixtures and fittings at fire-sale prices.

After Royal Mail, other government assets have gone or are in the process of going. In no particular order:

The "Nudge Unit" (Behavioural Insights Team) was sold in February 2014 to employees and a charity according to the official media release (as relayed by the BBC here). Fair enough, a supporter of co-ownership one might think. However, Private Eye reports that a full eighth of the shares went to the two civil servants who had set up the unit, and that only 22.5% went to an employee benefit trust for the rest of the staff. The Eye claims that the value of the business on which the sale was based was £100,000, while last reported profits were £1.8m.

An interest in the King's Cross Central redevelopment was sold at a profit, but this article reckons that the taxpayer did not get their fair share of the eventual value of the site.

We also risk making a loss on the sale of Lloyds Bank and RBS shares.

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