I’m sorry to keep banging on about energy but it’s the issue of our time. That Energy Rich Scotland has folk suffering hypothermia’s perverse and where’s the cash and jobs that should be flowing from this natural bounty of ours.
That was brought to mind with the government and council recently lauding a contribution of £1 million from East Lothian Community Windpower Ltd to a fuel poverty fund. They also provide some other modest benefits locally. Who could disagree with that, as it’ll alleviate suffering for some and help communities? But I did some digging.
The company name makes you think of the old co-ops that once abounded. But this is a private company wholly owned by another Community Windpower ltd, this time in Cheshire, who in turn are owned by two individuals there. There’s not even a seat on the board, or a share held by a local, let alone the community. It’s a private company not a community venture.
What about the contribution. In these hard times £1 million’s a lot of cash. But I’ve been asking what percentage of profits is this? So far, I’ve not had an answer. Proportionally, maybe, its more than many of the bigger multinationals kick in. I just don’t know. Certainly, many community councils are getting big bucks though from local suppliers. So, it’s not unprecedented. Is it 1%, 10%, we’re just not told. But turnover’s substantially greater than that by some margin.
Even a cursory glance at company accounts shows dividends taken by the owners who are the shareholders over recent years, and which aren’t a kick in the grass away from the donation. Dividends don’t attract the same tax rate as earnings. It’s why accountants advise the wealthy to pay themselves a dividend, as opposed to give themselves a wage.
What profits are being made and where are they going? Where are the jobs that should be created locally?
I’m minded of the great Billy Connolly song “Oh Sergeant Where’s Mine?”. That was about the army. My thoughts are “Oh Minister Where’s Ours”. Where’s our energy bounty not modest cash handouts.