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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

“Shell’s profits soar while households suffer” says IPPR

The UK’s leading progressive thinktank, IPPR, has responded to the announcement that Shell has made £7.7 billion ($9.65 billion) in profits in the last quarter (Jan-Mar). Shell have also announced a new round of share buybacks, transferring £3.18 billion ($4 billion) to shareholders, following on from £13.8 billion ($17.35 billion) of buybacks in 2022. 

Joseph Evans, researcher at IPPR, said: 

“Shell’s profits soar while households suffer. To add insult to injury, instead of using the profits productively, like investing in the green transition, they’ve decided to hand this excess cash straight to their shareholders through a £3.18bn buyback programme, adding to the £13.8bn they paid out last year.  

“It is time the government finally start taxing excessive payments to shareholders. A share buyback tax could bring in crucial billions to the UK treasury every year.” 

A recent report published by IPPR and Common Wealth argued that share buybacks are a direct cash transfer away from households struggling to pay bills, via energy company profits, to already-wealthy shareholders. The report, Buy Back Better, contained the following analysis: 

  • Share buybacks channel profits from companies to shareholders by increasing the value of shareholders’ stock. 
  • FTSE 100 companies announced £55 billion share buybacks in 2022. 
  • President Biden has recently introduced a tax on share buybacks to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis in America. 
  • Replicating Biden’s proposed 4 pre cent tax on share buybacks could raise nearly £2 billion a year for the UK treasury. 
  • Share buy backs were actually illegal as a form of market manipulation until 1981.