Tuesday's Blog

Dan has returned to Westminster after the Whitsun Recess and is straight back to work. Here's Tuesday's blog.

Firstly, welcome to my brand new website! Today I have been focusing on my commitments to the BIS Select Committee and the backbench Labour Committee which I chair. I’ve had meetings with leading business groups to discuss reasons why the banks have fallen short of their lending targets. Earlier on I spoke to a former Customer Relations Manager who was in the banking industry for 40 years. He told me,

“Banking is very impersonal these days. Inevitable really with the rise of internet banking, but if the banks are to recover and businesses are to ever loan the money they need, we have to go back to the simplistics of the late nineties.

As a Customer Relations Manager, I would forge relationships with my customers, businessmen and women, doctors, nurses or just Mums and Dads. There isn’t that same connection anymore. In the old days, if a businessman had won a contract, he would ring me up and say, ‘I need your advice’ or ‘can you help me.’ That doesn’t happen anymore.

I used to have some discretion. I would talk on the phone to a businessmen and hear what he had to say, jump in my car and go and have a look at his proposal. I could make a physical assessment of the business. Not only does that not happen anymore, but banks seem reluctant to give anyone any authority. It’s all so centralised now. I go in to a bank and there isn’t even a customer services manager. There are just specialists. If the specialist you need isn’t there that day you have to wait weeks until they are.

What is more, where I had discretion, they just have targets. They are judged, not on their ability to lend to businesses and forge close working relationships, but on meeting targets. It’s bureaucracy gone mad and it’s far too impersonal. What we need are local managers with local staff based in fewer branches. It is essential for the future of business banking.”

Tomorrow the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, will give evidence to the BIS Select Committee. I’ll be raising this example and many more with him. Then I will be chairing Labour’s backbench committee on Business when we will be hearing from Simon Biltcllife, the founder of Webmart.

Thanks for visiting the site and come back tomorrow when I’ll tell you what Vince has had to say.

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