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Sale of Public Assets: Value for Money

Volume 651: debated on Tuesday 11 December 2018

6. What assessment his Department has made of whether value for money has been achieved by the sale of public assets. (908126)

It is Government policy to explore options for the sale of corporate and financial assets where there is no longer a policy reason to retain them and value for money can be secured for taxpayers. All asset sales are subject to a rigorous value-for-money assessment before they can go ahead.

In the Government’s pursuit of paying down the debt, they are at risk of selling off assets that could be of benefit to the public in the long term. Although the Economic Secretary talks about the modelling, we know from our work on the Public Accounts Committee that the model is very debatable in exactly what the benefit and disbenefit will be to the public in the long term. Will he commit to assessing every upcoming sale rigorously and making sure that the Treasury is learning, so that it is not selling off the family silver and taking things away from the British public that belong to them?

I read the report published by the hon. Lady’s Committee, and I recognise the need for a rigorous value-for-money assessment of every sale. That is why, with respect to student loans, which was the subject of the Committee’s last report, I was pleased that the NAO said that

“the sale achieved prices at the upper end of these estimates”

and that

“the transaction…achieved value for money.”

The Government will continue to be guided by that in every transaction they undertake.