Lloyds Sign
Lloyds Bank was rescued by taxpayer money after it collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis (Reuters)

The Conservatives are set to announce that up to £4bn worth of the £9bn of Lloyds bank shares the government plans to sell will be offered to small investors at below-market prices, if they win the upcoming general election.

In March's budget George Osbourne stated the government would sell £9bn of shares in Lloyds.

Prime Minister David Cameron will say that the step is another part of the work his party has done "repairing our banks".

The PM is expected to say today: "The £20bn bailout of Lloyds Bank by the last Labour government became a symbol of the crisis that engulfed the British economy under Labour. After the public bailed it out, people feared they wouldn't see their money returned.

"Today they are. Today's announcement marks another step in the long journey we have been making repairing our banks, turning our economy around and reducing our national debt, only made possible by our long-term economic plan.

"That's why it is so important that we don't put all that progress at risk, but instead build on what we've done so we can deliver a brighter, more secure future for our country."

According to figures from the National Audit Office, the government owned £13bn of shares in Lloyds Bank in March 2014.

Discount for small investors

Writing in Sunday's Telegraph, Chancellor George Osborne said the initiative will give "many more people a stake in our economy," while ensuring the £20bn Labour spent to bail out the bank following the financial crash of 2008 is repaid.

"The share offer will raise billions of pounds, helping taxpayers to get back the money that the last Labour government put in, and reducing the national debt," he wrote.

Under the terms of the offer, buyers will receive a discount of at least 5% on the market price at the time of the sale, with priority given to investors purchasing up to £1,000 worth of shares.

The minimum purchase will be £250 and there will be a maximum limit of £10,000.

Buyers will be rewarded with a loyalty bonus if they keep their shares for a year.

The Conservatives hope that now the Lloyds share price is above the amount Labour paid, the shares can be sold at a profit, with the proceeds used to pay down the national debt.

Old new announcement

Labour criticised the announcement, saying the Tories had made the announcement seven times before. In March 2015, George Osbourne said the Tories would sell £9bn.

While the Liberal Democrats said the coalition government had rejected the idea as it was not viable.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told BBC's Radio 5 Live. "This idea is one that we have looked at several times in government… and decided against, because it's not been clear that we'd be able, through this method, to get the money back for the taxpayer."

Labour's Chris Leslie, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "The Tories have now announced this seven times.

"They promised it before the last election and they're turning to it again just weeks before this election.

"The most important thing is getting best value for money for the taxpayer.

"That's why we have said all the proceeds from selling back the government's stakes in Lloyds and RBS should be used to repay the national debt."