Tories pledge to sell discounted Lloyds shares

Tories pledge to sell discounted Lloyds shares

The Conservative Party has pledged to offer up to £4bn of shares in Lloyds Bank to small investors at below-market prices if they win next month’s general election.

The offer would be part of the £9bn sale of shares in the bailed-out bank that were announced in the most recent Budget. Prime minister David Cameron told the BBC it would “help us recover billions more to pay down the national debt”.

Labour said the Tories have both announced the plans at least seven times before. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said he would be “happy to have a look at” the plan as long as it was not which would lead to big institutional investors “making a killing”.

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The Liberal Democrats said the idea had been looked at by the coalition government, but decided against as it was not clear the taxpayer would benefit.

On Friday (17 April), Lloyds’s shares closed at 78.75pence and are currently at 79.11p (at 8.20am).

In other election-related news, Nicola Sturgeon told the Guardian that the Scottish National Party would have a “huge ability to change the direction” of the government in the event of a hung parliament, on the eve of launching a manifesto aimed at reassuring voters across the UK who are “scared” of her party.

Ahead of today’s manifesto launch, Ms Sturgeon dismissed Labour leader Ed Miliband’s rebuff of her offer of support last week as “pre-election talk”, stating that the SNP had “a vested interest in being a constructive participant” in supporting a Labour government.

Trade union the TUC has also responded to comments made by Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage opposing the minimum wage increases, suggesting it would encourage immigrants to come to the UK.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Not content with insulting television audiences, Mr Farage is today insulting the intelligence of voters with these economically illiterate remarks.

“Capping the minimum wage would drive down earnings for low-paid workers across the economy; giving bad bosses an excuse to skimp on wages and exploit staff is the last thing we need.

“Does Nigel Farage really want to be known as the champion of poverty pay? Our economy needs strong wage growth to flourish, not a race to the bottom.”