David Heath: Banks have done so little to regain customer confidence
WHAT is it with banks? Yet again they've been caught out taking small businesses to the brink of bankruptcy by activities that are certainly irresponsible, probably deceitful, and bordering on the criminal. And still they don't seem to learn.
Probably very few people know what "complex interest-rate swap derivative" are. I certainly didn't before looking into the issue on behalf of constituents, and they're far too boring and complicated to explain here. But the key point is that people were unwittingly sold a financial product they didn't want, didn't need, didn't understand, and which had the capacity to do their businesses considerable harm.
Indeed, some weren't even aware what they'd been sold, and yet many were forced to have them as a condition of a normal bank loan arrangement. So the banks were found out. Thousands of cases were uncovered of clear mis-selling, and 18 months ago redress was ordered. But what has happened since? Almost nothing. The big banks have used every device of procrastination and prevarication to avoid making payments. And meanwhile small businesses desperate for that cash are failing.
We had a debate about this last week. I was among about 50 MPs who spoke on behalf of their constituents. It would be nice to think we will now get action. But is it any wonder that people still distrust the big banks so. They do so little to regain our confidence.
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