Corporate profits soar by 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels

Huge study into UK companies exposes a profiteering crisis ‘far from over’

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An extensive study by Unite the union has found that the UK’s average corporate profit margins soared by 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels, exposing a profiteering crisis that is ‘far from over’.

Analysis of nearly 17,000 companies in the UK found that thousands of companies of all kinds have seen profits boost during the cost-of-living crisis with the most fruitful industries including big banks, oil and gas, electricity generation, supermarkets and shipping companies. 

The four big banks – HSBC, Barclays, Natwest and Lloyds – upped their profit margins by 75 per cent on their pre-pandemic margins, making a combined £45bn in 2022. Electricity generation companies almost trebled their profit margins since 2018/19, while Britain’s top four supermarkets have seen £17.4bn in profits since 2018.

Profits have not translated into investment however, as the research found that investment in the UK is at the bottom of the table compared to other G7 countries, and even lower now than pre-pandemic. On top of that, the FTSE 350 companies are paying 20% more to their shareholders compared to before the pandemic.  

Unite’s General Secretary Sharon Graham said the report shows “this profiteering crisis is far from over” as corporations rake in billions, while UK workers have been “hit with the biggest fall in real wages and living standards in generations”. 

“This is why our economy is broken,” said Graham. “Because of the choices of executives, investors, and politicians who choose short-term profits and fat dividends over investing in our industries and public goods.”

She added: “This is why at Unite we have one clear aim: to rebuild the trade union movement. That is how we regain the power to claim our share and insist that other choices are taken.”

Unite the union has carried out extensive research into ‘rampant’ profiteering in the UK economy and has called out the profiteers for driving the cost-of-living crisis. This latest analysis marks the largest study of corporate profits since the pandemic.

The union said its research sheds light on the alarming case of excessive corporate profiteering in Britain, which is not just ‘a few bad apples’. 

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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