Railway rolling stock fat cats paid out £1 billion dividends during pandemic year.
Rolling stock fatcats paid out nearly £1 billion in dividends at taxpayers’ expense last year, the RMT revealed today in a new report, the equivalent of half the £2 billion in fares paid by passengers and or 23% of the £8.3 billion in taxpayer support to the industry in the same year.
While the government has imposed pay freezes on heroic keyworkers, and passengers face massive fare rises in the New Year, the companies who own Britain’s trains have been siphoning taxpayer’s money overseas into the murky world of low tax jurisdictions and tax havens.
According to the RMT’s research, published today, the three rolling stock companies, Angel, Eversholt and Porterbrook paid £950 million in dividends through their complex group structures last year, with most of it disappearing overseas into opaque companies based in Luxembourg and Jersey, traditionally used to minimise tax liabilities.
The payments have been effectively made by the taxpayer as the government has guaranteed the pre-pandemic payments they make to the Rolling Stock companies for leasing their trains and refused to cap either lease charges or dividends.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“Another week, another tawdry pandemic profiteering story on our railways.
“While staff were risking their lives and passengers were doing the right thing, pulling together to keep the country moving, the well-heeled spivs who rent out trains kept on raking it in at taxpayers’ and fare payers’ expense and shuffling our money into overseas bank accounts.
“These people do nothing. They don’t build trains, they don’t operate them, they take no real risks and the taxpayer is bankrolling them. Their only real ingenuity is in devising company structures so complex they can hide what they’re doing.
“£I billion pounds in profits is more than enough to pay for a decent pay rise for rail workers and freeze fares for passengers. Ultimately, all our rolling stock should be publicly owned but as a first step we are calling on the government to use the Comprehensive Spending Review to announce a windfall tax on the profits of the Rolling Stock Companies to fund a rail rebate for fairer pay and fairer fares.”