Never Again will we Capitulate in the Face of a Banking Crisis

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rebuilding society
21st April 2015

It’s been a busy week for the political parties as they publish manifestos. While there are broad statements of intent, there is a concerning lack of detail around banking reform and mitigating the next banking crisis. With so much debate on austerity measures, political leaders are jockey to win points for their ideas on dealing with the symptoms, rather than tackling the cause. The banking system is far from fixed and there is sparse debate on the subject…

In the seven years before the financial crisis, lending to non-financial business accounted for just 8% of the total lending by UK banks. In fact, net lending to SMEs (that’s gross lending less repayments) was negative in the Bank of England’s most recent figures. Some of this is compensated with non-bank lending thanks to the rise of p2p lending and firms like rebuildingsociety.com

The banking system needs to do a better job of supporting businesses according to the manifestos of the three main parties published this week. Labour promise to “develop a banking system that works for businesses in every region and every sector in Britain”. The Conservatives “will continue to build a stronger, safer and more secure banking system that… provides businesses with the finance they need to grow and create jobs” and the Liberal Democrats pledge to “grow a competitive banking sector, support alternative finance providers and improve access to finance for business and consumers”.

But there’s a lot more to financial reform than supporting SMEs…

Do the political leaders really think that Basel III goes far enough?!

Do politicians really believe that the reforms of the last five years have fixed the financial system, and that this is something we no longer need to worry about? Experts continue to warn that the next crash could be just around the corner, and research from NEF shows that the UK remains uniquely exposed.

Meanwhile, mis-selling scandals continue to pop up with depressing regularity – even the Pensions Minister seems worried that the government’s latest pension reforms may build the next wave of mis-selling as unscrupulous dealers rush to take advantage of vulnerable pensioners. Have we reached the goal of a financial system that is stable, sustainable and fair?

The stakes could scarcely be higher. So why are our politicians so reluctant to talk about financial reform? Perhaps they are in the pockets of the industry…? Or maybe they just think that financial reform is not a voting issue – that ‘banker bashing’ has become unfashionable.

If the new government doesn’t seek to reform the financial system, then it’s even more important we work together to dis-intermediate finance. Bypassing the banks is one way you can play a small part in helping avert the next financial crisis.

Alas it seems we’ve got a long way to go on our mission; but while society needs work, we’ll keep rebuilding.

If you’re not a member and would like to help with the rebuild, please register here.

This article was inspired by posts from Positive Money and the New Economics Foundation. Please help spread awareness. There’s no excuse to be unprepared for the next crisis.

Photo Credit: CC: Rob Taylor

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