John McDonnell attacks ‘rip-off’ privatised electricity market

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has pledged a future Labour government would cut consumer energy bills – as he revealed shareholders in Scottish gas and electricity companies have received  dividends worth the equivalent of £1,700 per household north of the border.

Labour said data sourced from the accounts of power firms showed shareholders had received payments at this level over the period 2009 to 2018.

Mr McDonnell said the figures “expose the rip-off which is the privatised energy market in Scotland”.

Labour has already proposed bringing services such as water, energy and rail back into public ownership.

And the party believes establishing publicly-owned electricity networks will not only cut power bills, but will also help speed up the transition to renewable power.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. (Yui Mok/PA)

Speaking ahead of his address to the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, Mr McDonnell said: “Bill payers are subsiding shareholders while companies are not making essential investment for the future energy sustainability of the country.

“Labour’s plans for a publicly-owned energy network will reduce bills and deliver a green industrial revolution to create jobs and deliver a sustainable energy network.”

However Tories claimed Labour’s proposals would put private investment in the energy sector at risk, and would also cost billions of pounds.

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Alexander Burnett said: “It’s becoming ever more clear that the Labour Party are out of ideas.

“They seem to think that nationalisation will solve all problems, when in this instance it would do the opposite.

“Not only would it put private investment at risk, but it would cost billions of pounds in the first year alone.”

A ScottishPower spokesman said: “ScottishPower is one of Scotland’s biggest companies supporting thousands of jobs. We have consistently invested and spent more in Scotland and the UK than we have made in profit or paid in dividends, investing over £1 billion in each of the years in question.

“We also recently announced plans to invest £2 billion in the UK in 2019, the biggest investment ever made by our company in a single year and up to £6 billion between 2018 and 2022.

“Our energy networks business will continue to be a key enabler in driving forward Scotland and the UK’s ambitions for a decarbonised future, creating jobs and apprenticeships, while delivering smart and efficient grids capable of supporting the country’s future energy needs.”

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