Future profits vs short term cash

In our report with the New Economics Foundation we assess government proposals to privatise National Air Traffic Services and the Land Registry (now shelved, we hope), and involve the private sector in Ordnance Survey and Channel 4. These world-leading public services are all working successfully in public ownership – they are efficient and innovative. Not only that, but these public assets make millions in profit for the public purse. Privatising them will mean the government gets one off cash but future generations will lose out forever on the ongoing profits. Our new report explains when the public would start to lose out from sell offs.

Royal Mail

The Royal Mail was privatised after 500 years, despite the fact that 67% of us wanted it to be in public ownership. The Royal Mail was very profitable and the sell off (which ended in 2015) means that we’ll all be worse off within 10 years. 


Land Registry

The Land Registry has been recording the ownership of land and property in England and Wales since 1862 and 70% of us want it to stay public. The Land Registry makes millions every year. If it is sold off, the public will lose out financially from the sale in 25 years.

National Air Traffic Service

The government wants to privatise its 49% stake in National Air Traffic Services (NATS). NATS keeps 220 million air passengers safe every year and is a highly profitable public services. A decision to sell off the public stake would lose us money in just seven years’ time.


Ordnance Survey

The government wants to 'develop options to bring private capital into Ordnance Survey before 2020'. Ordnance Survey (OS) has been mapping Britain since 1791 and is most famous for its iconic paper maps. OS data underpins an estimated £100 billion of the UK economy and it shares that data for free, saving government tens of millions of pounds. Any move to sell OS would mean a loss of future revenue of over £910 million over the next 30 years.

Channel 4

The future of Channel 4 is uncertain; it may be at risk of part privatisation, for example through the selling of a minority stake. Channel 4 is publicly owned but self-funding. It invests in high quality news programming, documentaries and British films and comedy as part of its public service remit. Channel 4 contributes £1.1 billion a year to the economy.

The government wants to privatise public services that make millions in profit for all of us every year – this doesn't make economic sense.

Read the full report:

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