We all rely on the Royal Mail – from receiving that parcel we’ve ordered online to knowing that birthday card we’ve sent is going to arrive in time. Unfortunately, the Tory-led Government’s hasty fire sale of the Royal Mail last year has put this at risk, and it’s left the taxpayer disgracefully short changed by £1.4bn less than this valuable asset is worth today.
The National Audit Office (NAO) released a damning report into the sale, revealing that the taxpayer has been left hugely short-changed. David Cameron sold Royal Mail at 330p and on the first day of trading the share price rose by 38 per cent. It rose by 72 per cent in its first five months of trading and on Wednesday morning the price was 563p. The taxpayer has been left with a shocking £1.4 billion less than it is worth today.
Labour opposed the privatisation and warned the government that it was drastically undervaluing Royal Mail’s property assets. It’s now clear that ministers could have raised far more money than it did and the public has lost out thanks to their incompetence. Business Secretary Vince Cable dismissed the jump in price as ‘froth’ but since then it has continued to rise. It’s time he and David Cameron explained to British taxpayers why they were short-changed by £1.4 billion, especially at a time when people in Wyre Forest are facing a cost of living crisis brought about by this government’s failing policies.
What Vince Cable dismisses as ‘froth’ is actually costing the public hundreds of millions of pounds. With the government failing in its deficit reduction plans, we desperately needed value for money when selling off something as important as Royal Mail. Instead, the government rushed the sale through, got poor value for money and the British public is left to pick up the bill for their failure. Labour can’t commit to renationalisation when we get back into government as the huge jump in the share price means it would be like writing a blank cheque. What we will do is keep stamp prices down, safeguard Royal Mail’s services and protect the availability of Royal Mail services at the Post Office network.
David Cameron’s botched fire sale reveals how he stands up for the wrong people. His government sold off Royal Mail on the cheap in order to quickly plug the financial hole they made in the British economy. With ordinary people in Wyre Forest facing a cost of living crisis, it’s time for David Cameron and Vince Cable to explain why they are asking hard-working people to pay more, when they were prepared to sell Royal Mail for less.
Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.