Whilst we have a ‘Bank of England’, its role as a so-called central bank is a long way from where it could or should be.
The fact that banking in the UK is completely in private hands means that there are no public-centric influences at work across the range of financial services that are essential to life. There are no rules, guidelines or working examples that provide a benchmark in terms of either ethics or fairness and demonstrates to commercial finance houses and banks how financial ‘products’ should actually be.
It is essential that a new ‘Community Banking System’ is created that reflects the genuine and service-based needs of personal banking and small business banking needs – with the need for real start-up and development lending for what is the engine room of UK industry too.
In recent years, the digitisation of money and financial transactions and the reducing reliance on cash, coupled with the obsession with profits rather than customer service, has seen many retail bank premises close.
This process – yet another example of the top-down, profit-before-people approach, must be reversed. It must be replaced with a system that clearly focuses on genuine support for the customer and their financial needs first (service first, profit is the happy consequence)
The UK (government) already owns significant shareholdings in banks that were bailed out (wrongly) around the time of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. The remaining shareholding of one of these could easily be bought up by the government on our behalf, and then re-tasked for the purpose of being the Community Bank.
Alternatively, a new Community Bank could be established and started from scratch.
Either way, having a public bank that provides all of the services that the current private banks do not, will quickly help the mentality within ‘retail’ banking to change, and probably answers the question of why one doesn’t already exist right now.