More than £37bn has been paid to shareholders of privatised rail, telecoms, energy and water companies which could have been invested in public services, according to the shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Speaking in Lincoln on Saturday, McDonnell will say that tens of billions paid to shareholders should have been used to bring prices down for consumers. “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 at the event to mark the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, which, in 1217, enshrined the rights of people to the lands they lived and worked on.
Before privatisation those companies which made a profit paid them into the Treasury. Where they didn’t get spent upon investment in the services. Which is why capital expenditure rose after privatisation – because the government hadn’t been investing in them.
Sure, it’s theoretically possible that government will devote the socially optimal amount of investment, the fact is though that it didn’t. For the usual political reasons, there were always things likely to buy more votes to spend the money upon.
Sadly, all that is so long ago that a quick google doesn’t bring up the numbers. But it would indeed be interesting to see how much was being paid to the Treasury rather than on services, wouldn’t it?