LABOUR shadow chancellor John McDonnell will today launch an attack on the “rip off” privatised energy market in Scotland.

McDonnell will say that shareholders of Scottish electricity and gas network companies received dividends worth £1,700 per household over a decade.

He will argue the sums justify his party’s plan for a publicly-owned energy network, in a bid to cut bills.

Dozens of companies compete to supply households and businesses with gas and electricity, but the physical infrastructure of the energy network is also in private hands.

Research published today by Labour has focused on the dividends paid by the distribution and transmission firms owned by two energy giants.

SSE, headquartered in Perth and which employs over 20,000, is one of the “Big six” suppliers and also owns chunks of the networks.

According to the Labour figures, distribution and transmission firms owned by SSE paid out millions of pounds to shareholders between 2009 and 2018.

The same was true of the networks owned by Scottish Power/Iberdrola, another energy giant based in Scotland but ultimately owned by a Spanish multi-national.

In a speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, the shadow chancellor will estimate that the dividends paid out during this period by gas and electricity networks firms amounted to £1714 for every Scottish household.

McDonnell said: “This exposes the rip-off which is the privatised energy market in Scotland.

“Bill-payers are subsidising shareholders while companies are not making essential investment for the future energy sustainability of the country.

“Labour’s plans for a publicly owned energy network will reduce bills and deliver a Green Industrial Revolution to create jobs and deliver a sustainable energy network.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Power said: "Scottish Power is one of Scotland’s biggest companies supporting thousands of jobs. We have consistently invested and spent more in Scotland and the UK than we have made in profit or paid in dividends, investing over £1 billion in each of the years in question.

"We also recently announced plans to invest £2billion in the UK in 2019, the biggest investment ever made by our company in a single year and up to £6bn between 2018 and 2022.

"Our energy networks business will continue to be a key enabler in driving forward Scotland and the UK’s ambitions for a decarbonised future, creating jobs and apprenticeships, while delivering smart and efficient grids capable of supporting the country’s future energy needs."

Scottish Tory energy spokesman Alexander Burnett said:

“It’s becoming ever more clear that the Labour Party are out of ideas. They seem to think that nationalisation will solve all problems, when in this instance it would do the opposite.

“Not only would it put private investment at risk, but it would cost billions of pounds in the first year alone.”