The Conservative government will put £2bn (€2.7bn, $3bn) worth of shares in Lloyds Bank on sale in a bid to pay down the national debt, George Osborne has revealed. The decision comes after Gordon Brown's Labour government bailed out the financial firm to the tune of £20.5bn using taxpayers' money amid the 2008 financial crisis.
The Treasury received a 43% stake in the bank in return for the money and the latest move will be the government's final sell-off of the shares.
"We've got a big task here which is to finally get the British government out of owning great chunks of our banking system. We made a lot of progress with Lloyds, but this final chunk, this final sale, will be the biggest privatisation in over 20 years," the Chancellor told Sky News.
Osborne, speaking during the Conservative annual conference in Manchester, said the plan was part of his desire to see a "share owning democracy" in the UK. "I don't want all of those shares to go to city institutions, I want them to go to members of the public," he added.
The Treasury said that the public can sign up for the sale on 5 October and will be offered a discount of 5% of the market price, with a bonus share for every 10 shares for those who hold their investment for more than a year.
But the bonus share will be capped at £200 per investor and members of public applying for a batch of shares less than £1,000 will be prioritised. The Treasury also stressed that members of the UK's Armed Forces will be able to take part in the sale, even if they are stationed abroad.