Dividend payments down at UK firms

BRITISH companies paid out less in dividends in the first quarter of the year than they did a year ago, new figures have revealed.

A total of £13.6bn in dividends was paid during the first three months of 2010 – down 2.5 per cent compared with a year ago, according to Capita Registrars.

Paul Taylor, head of dividends at Capita Registrars – an arm of Capita Group providing share registration – said: “Even a very strong performance from the rest of UK plc will make it difficult to make up for weakness at the top - as a result we expect the recovery in dividends to take longer than we had initially forecast.”

However, the figures are less grim than they seem according to Capita.

The data showed that the annual rate of decline it was the slowest since the recession began and that 186 companies paid a dividend between January and March, up from 161 a year ago.