APPG meeting on Fair Business Banking

Gary Whitehead of AFT Assist Ltd was delighted to attend the All Party Political Group meeting at the Houses of Parliament to discuss fair business banking

The meeting was hosted by George Kerevan MP, the current Chair of the APPG and included members of the SME Alliance.

The remit of the APPG is to secure a fair business banking relationship in recognition of the huge imbalance of power that persists between private businesses and their finance providers.

This inequality, combined with the very limited protection and systematic poor behaviour of some large financial firms, has left microbusinesses and major employers alike, vulnerable to abuse.

It has led to the damage and destruction of otherwise viable businesses, the loss of thousands of jobs and has endangered the prospects for a strong and enduring economic recovery.

Mr Anthony Stansfield, Thames Valley Police Commissioner, also attended to discuss the HBOS Reading fraud trial, which resulted in a senior HBOS bank manager and five others being jailed for their part in a £245m fraud, which destroyed many SME businesses.

Lloyds Bank sought to deny the fraud for circa 10 years before matters where formally investigated by the police. Comments were also made about the knowledge of senior personnel within the bank who were described as being either totally incompetent or complicit with the actions of the people involved.

During the meeting Gary was able to raise a significant point for the Groups consideration stating ‘At present bank’s can legitimately put their own business interests ahead of those of its business clients. Whilst this persists it is open for abuse and we will continue to see examples of serious wrongdoing by banks, as we have over recent years. By creating even a limited duty of care to business clients, banks behaviour would have to change, and this would hopefully be the starting point in creating a fairer relationship.’

We can only hope that the APPG can drive through such change, although the lobbying power of banks is so great that you have to feel that change, in so far as any is possible, will only happen on the bank’s terms.