Dividends top £20bn in the third quarter

The level of UK dividends rose above £20bn between July and September, according to new figures published this morning.

Capital Registrars said third-quarter payouts to shareholders were up nearly 16 per cent, year on year. At more than £20.9bn the level of payouts by companies in the three-month period was the highest since the second quarter of 2008.

Capita also said that companies had distributed £55bn to shareholders in the first nine months of 2011. That is well ahead of the comparable figure of £46.6bn for the same period last year.

"Dividends are growing faster than we expected as UK firms shrug of the worst stock market conditions since 2008 and continue to increase payouts to shareholders," the chief executive of Capita Registrars, Charles Cryer, said.

Looking ahead, he added said dividends were still likely to grow, although the pace of growth is expected to be slower.

The third-quarter performance came as total of 228 companies paid dividends over the period, up from 201 last year. Of the total, 196, either increased, reinstated or started making payouts to shareholders and only 23 reduced or cancelled their dividends, Capita said.