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CAMPAIGNERS have created a set of Top Trumps cards to highlight George Osborne’s stack-em-high and sell-em-cheap approach to public assets, writes Lamiat Sabin.
The Chancellor is poised to sell off more than £23 billion of taxpayer-funded services that have been part of British life for hundreds of years.
The 1,129-year-old Royal Mint, the third oldest institution in the world, would mean the Conservative government losing £5.7 million a year from the public coffers, according to campaigning group We Own It.
The protesters will be showcasing the Top Trumps cards outside the Treasury today amid the End Austerity Now march in London, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
The taxpayer only has 15 per cent remaining in 499-year-old Royal Mail after the government sold a stake of the same size last week for £750m. The leftovers still make £201m a year profit.
Cat Hobbs, director of We Own It, said: “George Osborne needs to stop playing games with our national treasures. Our Top Trumps provide vital services and often make a profit for the public purse.
“Osborne says he wants a ‘long-term economic plan’ but he’ll go down in history as short-term George if he sells off our public assets.”
The taxpayer will be significantly short-changed when the government begins the biggest British privatisation to date in selling off its 79 per cent stake — worth £32bn — in the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Mr Osborne said this month that he would force the sale through despite facing a huge loss. RBS’s shares are now worth just 70% of their bailout price of 502p
A mammoth £45bn of taxpayers’ money was pumped into the bank in 2008 after the bankers’ crash.
He said: “Yes, we may get a lower price than that was paid for it — but we will get the best price possible.”
Profiteers are also expected to snap up weather forecaster the Met Office and the £11m a year it provides to the public purse.
The Student Loan Company, Channel 4, the Ordnance Survey and Lloyds bank are also up for grabs.
Mr Osborne announced the creation of a new company to oversee the swathe of sell-offs, called UK Government Investments (UKGI), at the swanky Confederation of British Industry banquet earlier this month.
He boasted: “UKGI will deliver the biggest ever sale of publicly owned corporate and financial assets in 2015-16, exceeding £23bn in real terms for the first time.”
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