Say goodbye to all these publicly-owned assets because Osborne is selling them

Osborne wants to flog more public assets than Thatcher

In the chancellor’s summer Budget following the Tories’ election win, George Osborne said he would make more money than Thatcher in 1987 selling off assets.

He plans to raise a whopping £32bn, more than 1987, and more still than 1991 when the record was set at £11.8bn (the equivalent of £20.5bn today) after the sale of BT and power companies.

The government has already sold its stake in Lloyds bank for £13bn, Eurostar for £757m and made £2.3bn in student loan book sales.

It’s a bold move which Osborne claims will help the UK balance its books. However, it seems the tide of public opinion is firmly against him.

A YouGov poll found even the majority of Conservative voters are in favour of renationalisation of public services. The 2013 survey found, no matter what political persuasion, the public wanted nationalisation for rail services (66%), energy companies (68%), the NHS (84%) and Royal Mail (67%).

Despite this, Osborne has his sights resolutely set on selling more. Here are the ones we know about.


The long-mooted sale of the government’s stake in bailed-out bank RBS is expected to be completed by the end of this parliament, raising £6bn a year from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

Royal Mail

The state still has a 30% stake in the recently privatised company. After the botched sell-off of Royal Mail, the government retained nearly a third of the business and expects to make a further £1.5bn in the sale of these shares.

Green Investment Bank

The government aims to part-privatise the Green Investment Bank – the world’s first bank dedicated to greening an economy by funding green projects. It expects to raise £1.4bn from the sale.

Kings Cross Central Partnership

The government is part of a group that is redeveloping part of Kings Cross. It said it will sell its shares in the group and the Office for Budget Responsibility expects the government to get £400m from the sale.

And some of these will be next…

The government has been holding publically-owned shares in 21 firms in the Shareholder Executive of the government, but it recently transferred them to a company called UK Financial Investments, which is a part of UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) – a government-owned company set up in 2010 to merge Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

UKAR is expected to raise £12bn this year through the sale of some assets it controls. This means it will definitely be selling some of the following but hasn’t revealed which yet. Some organisations, such as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority could obviously never be fully privatised, while others, such as Channel 4, have had privatisation plans drawn up in the past, but then ditched.

Here’s the list:

CDC Group

Channel 4

Companies House

Electricity Settlements Company

Insolvency Service

Land Registry

London and Continental Railways

Low Carbon Contracts Company

Met Office


Nuclear Decommissioning Authority

National Nuclear Laboratory

Nuclear Liabilities Fund

Ordnance Survey

Post Office

The Royal Mint

UK Export Finance


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Readers' comments (3)

  • He has my support. I'd rather the Government and Civil Servants focused on running the country....leave running businesses to businessmen. Bizarre inefficient business ownership Vs mass debt reduction? No contest. Sell them off, just don't do a Gordon Brown and give the money away for no return.

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  • Some of us are old enough to remember what nationalised industries used to be like;expensive, slow to respond, inefficient etc. Admittedly, the railways are a total mess, but that was down to the stupid way they were organised, which I believe had something to do with a competition requirement from EU. Separating trains from track was and is nonsense. Most governemnt agencies are quangos with overpaid directors with no incentive to improve. Privatise the lot of them, but make sure there is competition to keep them on their toes.

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  • Ian, I really don't think 'overpaid directors with no incentive to improve' applies only to the old nationalised industries! you are being a little naive I fear, and yes I too am old enough to remember nationalised industry problems, and there were serious inefficiencies and lack of well directed investment, but many were down to the unfair power wielded by trade unions, which is now far more balanced. It is precisely because of unfair massive payments to the 'leaders of private industry', uncontrolled by shareholders, that people are turning back to the idea of nationalisation and making such leaders accountable to all of us.

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