David Prosser: The disproportionate damage banks can do


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The Independent Online

Outlook Having written at length in yesterday's Independent about why there should be no delay in implementing the reforms about to beproposed by Sir John Vickers' Independent Commission on Banking, there is no need to dwell for too long on CBI boss John Cridland's assertion that to introduce them at a such a delicate moment in the economic cycle would be "barking mad".

However, here is just one thought for Mr Cridland – and for George Osborne, the Chancellor, who we report today is minded to wait before implementing Sir John's reforms.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the banking sector accounts for a full percentage point of the 2.8 per cent contraction in the size of the UK economy since the collapse of Lehman Brothers three years ago. To put that another way, the banking sector accounts for only 5 per cent of the UK economy, but has been responsible for more than a third of the decline we've seen over the past three years.

The truth is that the banks and their supporters will always find a reason to argue that the moment is not right for banking reform. But we just have to face up to the task of tackling their disproportionate impact on the economy.

One other point. The CBI is dominated by large companies for whom credit is no longer in short supply. Mr Cridland should, however, spare a thought for small- and medium-sized enterprises still struggling to borrow.