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Everything must go – welcome to the Downing Street fire sale

The government has announced plans to raise £16bn in a sale
of public assets over the next two years to reduce a deficit projected to reach
£175bn, earmarking the Channel rail link, a 32% stake in uranium processing
company Urenco, the Thames Bridge and the Dartford Tunnel, the UK student loans
book and the bookmaker Tote for potential offloading.

But critics think these sales would only amount to a few billion pounds.

Government-owned property may be put on the block, too, which Brown estimates
could bring in an additional £13bn ­ could this mean the PM waving goodbye to
Number 10 even if Labour wins the next general election?

Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable was quoted telling the BBC:
“What worries me about the government proposal is that they’re proposing to sell
off in very depressed markets, under very depressed markets for land and for
shares.”

Margaret Eaton, chairman of the Local Government Association, said she was
concerned because local councils will be expected to stump up much of the cash
through asset and land sales in the next three years. ShareCast reported her
saying: “Local government will dispose of assets if [the assets] are not
required but, given the current financial climate, this is not a good time to
sell.”

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