True price of bank­ing crash

Legacy is a decade of aus­ter­ity

Yorkshire Post - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

YORKSHIRE’S RE­SILIENCE is il­lus­trated by the re­gen­er­a­tion that has taken place in the re­gion’s cities since the global fi­nan­cial crash 10 dif­fi­cult years ago. Once moth­balled sites are now flour­ish­ing as of­fices, shops and leisure lo­ca­tions.

Yet, while the county’s sky­line is much changed and record num­bers of peo­ple are now in em­ploy­ment, the legacy of a decade of aus­ter­ity, and the stag­na­tion of liv­ing stan­dards, is a rise in pop­ulism, cul­mi­nat­ing here in the Brexit vote, and sig­nif­i­cant fault lines in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor which need to be chal­lenged.

This is not for the lack of try­ing on the part of this county’s en­trepreneurs. The num­ber of SMEs, which un­der­pin the re­gion’s econ­omy, has still risen by nearly 20 per cent in re­cent years de­spite banks in­creas­ing their level of lend­ing to this sec­tor by less than one per cent. The work ethic is clear to see.

How­ever, while the bank­ruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the pub­liclyfunded bailout of banks like RBS, pre­cip­i­tated reg­u­la­tory re­form, there’s a com­pelling case – 10 years on – for a re­view of these pro­to­cols to not only test their ro­bust­ness but en­sure cus­tomers and busi­nesses are be­ing treated fairly.

Much ev­i­dence sug­gests oth­er­wise. MPs are still press­ing for in­for­ma­tion about the business prac­tices pur­sued by RBS and there’s a be­lief that the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity is in­ca­pable of stand­ing up to those bank bosses who be­lieved that they were un­touch­able. There are clearly lessons to be learned from the causes of the crash – and also the reg­u­la­tory poli­cies that fol­lowed.

And tax­pay­ers de­serve noth­ing less. They’re the fam­i­lies who are still pay­ing a heavy price for their for­bear­ance over the past decade with di­min­ished pub­lic ser­vices – and now the clo­sure of both local banks and cash­points. No won­der trust is in such short sup­ply de­spite the re­cent re­vival of once derelict ar­eas.

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