Renationalise energy and no more budgets for the rich
- Monday 26 September 2022
Unite GS slams power giant at Scottish policy conference
Yesterday, (September 25) Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham told delegates at Unite’s Scottish policy conference, that ScottishPower’s ‘eyewatering’ £7bn in dividends to its Spanish owners, reveals the need to renationalise energy and proves that a budget benefitting the rich will not work.
In the last year a Unite investigation has revealed that 13 per of Glaswegians, over 82,000 people – simply can’t pay their household bills this year. And more than 152,000 Glaswegians – nearly a quarter – are living in food poverty.
She also referred to the Herald on Sunday’s revelation that while ScottishPower has been pushing for a taxpayer-backed £100bn fund to help energy firms freeze energy bills, and has eventually been adopted by Liz Truss, it has handed over nearly £7bn in dividends to its foreign owners since being taken over.
Sharon highlighted the findings taken from a Herald on Sunday probe into the money being funnelled from the Glasgow-based energy firm to Iberdrola, as an example of how Liz Truss’ “trickle down economics is already doomed.”
According to the Herald the payout bonanza to its Spanish owners, Iberdrola, over its 14 years of control of the Glasgow-based company has been revealed as its high profile chief executive Keith Anderson has seen his pay soar by £200,000 to £1.35m in a year. Six years ago, Scottish Power Limited's highest paid director was getting almost half that at £687,000.
It came after the Herald on Sunday discovered that while ScottishPower has been pushing for a taxpayer-backed £100bn fund to help energy firms freeze energy bills, and has eventually been adopted by Liz Truss, it has handed over nearly £7bn in dividends to its foreign owners since being taken over.
Sharon told the Herald, “The figures around ScottishPower are eye-watering. When you talk about the £7bn that has gone out the Scottish economy in dividends to shareholders in Spain, that is the trickle-down economics Liz Truss is talking about, but it did not trickle down to Scotland.
“These figures exposing rampant profiteering, on their own, practically establish the need for the re-nationalisation of energy. A windfall tax might do something for a moment in time. But in the long term, it’s clear that piecemeal action will not solve the scale of these problems. Sooner or later Labour will have to back taking the energy giants back into public ownership.”
According to the Herald, ScottishPower’s dividend payments to Iberdrola have amounted to nearly £1bn in the past two years alone as customers face energy bills doubling since last winter, despite government intervention.
The amounts paid out is £2bn more than Mr Anderson said Iberdola was putting into a major global investment plan in the UK over five years when he was appointed chief executive in February, 2018.
Sharon commented, “In contrast to these desperate statistics stands the profiteering of Scottish Power whose headquarters is a matter of miles away from this conference on the other side of the River Clyde.
“How’s that for trickle down economics? Seven billion pounds handed over from Scottish Power to Iberdrola in Spain. That’s trickle down economics alright. Trickle down from Scotland to Spanish shareholders. Proof that government trickle down policies are rhetoric that is doomed from the start to fail.”
And at the policy conference, Sharon urged the Labour party to be far bolder, to make the ‘clear blue water’ that now exists between them and the Truss government count, adding Labour “cannot simply stand still and needs to be bold in contrast to Kwarteng's bonanza for the super-rich”.
Sharon’s comments came as Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng just two days prior had unveiled the government’s economic plan involving cutting taxes for corporations and the rich, while families struggle to pay the costs of food, fuel and rent.
The government policies announced in the mini-budget – reversing planned rises in corporation tax and national insurance, cutting stamp duty, scrapping the top income tax rate – will put millions of pounds into the pockets of the wealthiest people, not to mention bankers, who will have the cap on their bonuses removed. C
To the Herald she added that the “mini-budget is unashamedly a budget for the rich, big business and the City – highest earners’ tax slashed, corporation tax slashed, investment bankers’ bonuses let rip.” And as for Labour, she urged, “Do not stand on the sidelines and play this safe. Hoping that that will be enough, will not work.”
Compiled by Amanda Campbell