Julian Knight: Small business is bleeding, but guess who still denies it?
Some 120 businesses a day folded in the first quarter. How many could have been saved by their banks?
Sunday 03 May 2009
It may only be May but we already have a winner for The Independent on Sunday's "statement of the bleeding obvious" award. It has to go to John McFall MP and his band of merry men and women on the perennially crusading Treasury Select Committee who released the second report last Friday into the UK banking crisis. It states that top bankers had made a "mess" of things by behaving in a "reckless" manner.
Now that's what you call insightful. Where the report got more interesting, though, and has created a spat was its annoyance at the treatment of small businesses by the banks. To paraphrase the committee, it said that banks were applying the squeeze to their small business customers.
I'm fortunate to know a fair few small business people and they all report the same thing; up until a few weeks ago they were having their borrowing cut arbitrarily and are being charged arrangement fees and rates you'd associate with corrupt government officials in banana republic not supposedly respectable banks.
What's the British Bankers' Association (BBA) response? It says that the few small businesses having a hard time in a recession are not giving an accurate picture to MPs, and that lending is actually up on a year ago. All fine then. Until you remember that this is from the same association that blamed journalists for partly creating the financial crisis by daring to report it.
The BBA has proven itself to be nothing more than a dissembling apologist for the completely inexcusable. As bankrupt as the institutions it represents. As for the plight of small business, there has been a trickle-down of cash of late, but for too long the missives from head office that lending must re-commence were ignored at a local level. The Federation of Small Businesses tells me that in the first quarter, some 120 businesses a day were folding. How many of those crucial wealth-creating firms could have been saved with a little flexibility and understanding from their banks? As for the Select Committee assertion that it will take a generation for banking to get back to normal, I ask – what is normal? If the MPs mean the past decade, let's hope we never go back to normal. Not to another speculative property bubble, which makes people wealthy for doing little and excludes a vast swathe of our society until it all goes pop and the under-30s can afford to join the merry-go-round and we start again.
Do as I say...
When it comes to my own personal finances I have a shameful confession to make. I opened a letter from my building society yesterday informing me that my savings account will be paying a whopping 0.05 per cent interest until further notice. That means that on £1,000 saved – taking into account compound interest – I will have earned a grand total of £10 in interest sometime around the summer of 2024.
Despite my exhortations in this column to shop around, I have committed the classic sin of not reviewing my interest rate. I sort of presumed that if not a best buy, it was hovering somewhere just below. It wasn't: my account has been the subject of savage cuts by an institution that got into trouble through bad investments. It reminds me of the Nationwide advert where a bank salesman character tells the saver that the big juicy rate initially on offer was there just to get them to bite, and has since been cut and they have been thrown into the "keep net".
Research by Investec Private Bank shows that only one of the best buy accounts from early 2007 is still near the top of the table. The others are now paying next to nothing or, in Icesave's case, has gone bust. Like millions of savers I have been thrashing around in the keep net for some time without even realising it. Do as I say, not as I do.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
Dennis Rodman will coach the North Korea basketball team
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£500 - £550 per day: Cornwallis Elt : Business Analyst Target Operating Mod...
£500 - £680 per day: Harrington Starr: Murex Business Analyst - 1000 CHF per d...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: A leading au...
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
Day In a Page
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.