Socialist Worker

Money going to shareholders has gone up six times faster than wages

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2681

Money going to shareholders has far outstripped rises in wages

Money going to shareholders has far outstripped rises in wages (Pic: Tim Sanders)

Payouts to shareholders in major firms rose over six times faster than wages between 2014 and 2018, says new research.

The TUC union federation and the High Pay Centre said their analysis indicated that Britain’s largest listed companies generated £551 billion in profit during this period. From this they handed £442 billion to shareholders in dividends and buybacks—the equivalent of £1.7 billion a week.

Shareholders in companies featured in the RTSAE 10 share index received £123 billion in dividends and share buybacks in 2018, said the report. This compares with £79 billion in 2014 and amounts to a 56 percent increase in returns to shareholders.

Meanwhile average wages for workers in Britain increased by 8.8 percent—and many workers faced wage freezes or even saw their wages shrink.

The TUC said that if pay had kept pace with shareholder returns, the average worker would now be over £9,500 better off.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said, “Working people should get a fair share of the wealth they create. But instead the playing field is tilted in favour of wealthy shareholders and executives while families struggle to make ends meet.

“It's time to change the rules. At this election, politicians need to set out how they will fix Britain and start putting working people first.”

But capitalism is not about “fair shares” for workers. It is a system that by its nature generates inequality and puts extracting profit for accumulation before everything else.


It is a system of looting that cares neither about workers nor the environment.

A separate TUC survey recently showed that pay for the wages of the less well-off are slipping further behind those who earn £50,000 and above.

People in the highest 1 percent income bracket saw their pay rise by 7.6 percent between 2016 and 2018. But workers on average pay saw an increase of just 2 pence, or 0.1 percent, in the same period.

This translates to an increase from £58.73 an hour to £63.18 for the top income earners. Yet those on average pay saw a miserable increase from £12.71 to £12.73 an hour.

The normality of capitalism is food banks and deep poverty for many while a few live in great wealth.

In May this year the Sunday Times Rich List showed that the richest 1,000 individuals in Britain are worth £771 billion—up £48 billion in a year.

The Equality Trust charity’s research said the 1,000 richest people had seen their wealth rise by £253 billion in the past five years. This means they have more wealth than the poorest 40 percent of households.

It will take more than a few minor tax changes to change this.

We do not want just to take a little more from billionaires, we want the abolition of a system that produces billionaires.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.