The UK’s biggest supermarkets received £1.9bn in business rates relief given as a financial cushion in the pandemic.
Sainsbury’s disclosed business rates relief worth £230m in the first half of its financial year, while paying £231m in dividends.
In October, Tesco announced a £315m dividend despite receiving £585m in relief.
A stockbroker Shore Capital told the Times it was “absolutely right” for Sainsbury’s to look after “its retail and pension fund shareholders”.
Telecom Plus – a FTSE 250 utility company – paid a dividend for the same period as it claimed furlough funds from the government. In a response that mimicked Black’s comment, it said: “We ensured those shareholders who are reliant on the dividends would retain this important source of income.” Asked if the shareholders it had in mind were pensioners, the company said yes.
BlackRock manages more than $7 trillion (£5.3tn) of funds and makes it clear that lobbyists for the organisation represent the interests of hardworking pension savers.
When the finance industry gets into trouble, it pleads that it is funding ordinary people’s retirements. It isn’t true. Pensioners are a useful defence in the City’s fight to preserve its privileges. Unwittingly they are wheeled out as human shields by the finance industry, and increasingly major corporations, to serve and protect probably the most powerful interests in the UK.
Individual shareholders own just 13.5% of the London stock market. UK pension funds own 2.4% and insurance companies, which could be said to be investing on behalf of pension savers, account for a further 4%. Collectively, that is less than a fifth of the market. The largest slice is held by overseas investors, who own 55%.