UK

George Osborne's State Asset Sell-Off: 'Greater Privatisation In 12 Months Than Last 20 Years'

05/08/2015 13:40 BST | Updated 05/08/2015 14:59 BST
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne poses for the media with the traditional red dispatch box outside his official residence at 11 Downing Street in London, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. The Chancellor is to deliver his annual budget speech to the House of Commons later Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

George Osborne is set to raise more money in a single year through the sale of public assets than was made by the combined profits of every privatisation project over the last two decades, shocking new research has shown.

The sell-off of stakes in Royal Mail, Royal Bank of Scotland and other organisations is predicted to generate around £31.8 billion for the Chancellor in 2015/16, just over the £31.7 billion figure raised by all privatisations since 1993.

The sum is also expected to be the largest amount of money raised through the disposal of shares in publicly-owned companies in any 12-month period in modern history.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey described the findings of the Press Association's report as "the sale of the century", and accused Osborne of "rewarding the Tory party's friends in the city in a spectacularly lavish style".

"These are public assets belonging to the taxpayer, held in trust for the future for the benefit of the many, not for the financial gain of a rich city elite," the Union boss added.

len mccluskey

Len McCluskey attacked the Chancellor over his proposed plans

"George Osborne is being utterly irresponsible and inconsistent. On the one hand he announces £12 billion of cuts, the pain of which will be felt by the most vulnerable, on the other he rushes through the RBS sale and in the process loses out on a £14 billion return to taxpayers.

"This is money that could have been spent on infrastructure investment, education and health for the benefit of all."

The findings come as two Labour leadership contenders pledged to commit themselves to pursuing a policy of renationalisation of UK rail services.

Andy Burnham announced late on Tuesday he would permit the public sector to bid for rail franchises, while Jeremy Corbyn claimed he was a long-standing supporter of full rail and energy sectors' renationalisation.

Osborne's £30b bonanza is broken down as follows:

Osborne's £30b privatisation bonanza