Plans to sell off $25 billion of government assets, including the Tote, the Dartford Crossing, the student loan book and the Channel Tunnel rail link, were branded a “national car boot sale” yesterday, according to Times of London.
Experts and politicians attacked the move after Gordon Brown confirmed it in a City speech.
They warned that the Government would raise less than it expected or than it would if the assets were sold at a more propitious time.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said that it had been driven “entirely by political concerns”. Philip Hammond, the Shadow Chief Secretary, said that “selling the family silver” would do nothing to address Britain’s deficit.
Experts in infrastructure and corporate finance pointed out that the Government would have to drum up demand in depressed markets for real estate assets and the student loan book, while a number of other assets also had their own, unique problems.
The Government is hoping to accelerate the sale of about $17 billion of local authority property, including land, office buildings and council houses.
It also wants to sell $3 billion of central government property, including unidentified Whitehall buildings.