Magazine article Public Finance

Taxpayers Underwrite BE's £5.3Bn Costs, Say MPs

Magazine article Public Finance

Taxpayers Underwrite BE's £5.3Bn Costs, Say MPs

Article excerpt

Taxpayers face a 'significant risk' following the restnicturing of British Energy, with the cost of Britain's £5.3bn nuclear decommissioning liabilities expected to soar, MPs have warned.

The Public Accounts Committee published a study on July 19 into the future of British Energy, which was privatised in 1996 and rescued through a government-backed restructuring plan in 2002.

The MPs claim that taxpayers' liabilities increased by 29% during a recent reassessment of BE's financial position, a figure that may well rise further' because of uncertainties over the future costs of nuclear decommissioning.

That uncertainty is exacerbated because the two government departments with oversight of BE, the former Department for Trade and Industry and the Treasury, used different formulas to estimate future liabilities, the committee reports.

PAC chair Edward Leigh said: 'Upon privatisation, British Energy took on full responsibility for its nuclear power stations, including associated nuclear liabilities. …

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