Simon Read: What do YOU want from your bank?
Saturday 23 January 2010
Have the banks got away with it? With the recession set to be officially declared over next week and the financial world returning to relative normality, one thing's clear – nothing has really changed. The banks are still ripping people off with excessive overdraft and current account charges. They are also still refusing to offer real help to struggling borrowers by, for example, freezing interest charges.
In other words, despite their massive cock-ups, it's back to banking business as usual with champagne, cigars and big bonuses all round. Bookie Paddy Power predicts British bankers will be pocketing £7bn when this year's bonuses are paid out. While that's not as high as the excesses during the boom of 2007, when beaming bankers received around £10.2bn, it is a lot more than last year when they were awarded £4bn.
Enough's enough. The Government has done little to improve the lot of the consumer when it comes to mainstream banking and there is unlikely to be anything positive to appear after this year's election, whichever party emerges triumphant. It means it's down to us to change things. Pleasingly Which? has taken up the challenge with its Future of Banking Commission. It aims "to put the wider interests of society at the heart of financial reform" and has recruited former Tory Party chairman David Davis to chair it, with support from Labour's John McFall and the Liberal Democrat's Vince Cable.
Which? says the commission will be the first report to look at the financial crisis from the point of view of normal people. It will hold three select committee style hearings in February and March calling key witnesses such as Bank of England governor Mervyn King, pictured, along with a good selection of other banking bigwigs. On top of that senior politicians, financial regulators, trade unions and business leaders will also give evidence. What's missing from that list? You.
But Which? hasn't forgotten about you and is, in fact, putting normal people at the heart of its investigation. Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says, "Ordinary people are still feeling the repercussions of the financial crisis yet their voice has so far been missing from the debate about how to rebuild our banking system. Everyone uses banking services in some form or another so it's only right that the public has a say in how banks can better serve society."
To make sure your views are heard, Which? is hosting The Which? Big Banking Debate, culminating in a live event on the evening of Thursday 4 February. It may be your only real chance to have a say in how the banking system should change. Which? will be taking its findings to the government after the 2010 general election to show whoever is in power then how people want the financial crisis to be tackled.
For a chance to attend what should be a lively debate email firstname.lastname@example.org with "Big Banking Debate" as the message. If you can't get to the debate – being held in London's Victoria between 5pm and 8pm – email Which? with your views or fill in its online banking survey at tinyurl.com/y932mru.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Pension mortgages: 'The advice I was given was wrong and now I face losing my home'
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Money Insider: Supermarkets: the real challenger banks
Questions of Cash: I checked in with Air France in time and still missed the plane
Minister's pension promise to firefighters challenged
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens