Scottish Greens call for diversity in banking

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The Scottish Green Party have stepped up their calls for diversity in the banking sector ahead of today’s opposition day debate on banking in the House of Commons. The debate moved by Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie,  paves the way for Ed Miliband’s major speech on the economy to be delivered on Friday.  Miliband is expected to propose a cap on the size of banks but the Scottish Greens have described his proposals as “underwhelming”.

The four largest banks in the UK are responsible for around 85% of the total personal current account business.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling on the Scottish Government to negotiate the transfer of RBS operations in Scotland to create a network of local banks.

The motion also expresses concern at the latest warnings of job losses at RBS. The Edinburgh-based banking giant is understood to be preparing to shed thousands more posts following the 40,000 already axed since the financial crash in 2008.

Alison said:

“Further job losses would be devastating for local families and our communities. It underlines the need for a cultural shift in banking. We need a more diverse banking sector providing job security, supporting small businesses and serving the public.

“If we look to Germany we see a successful network of small Sparkassen banks which make a profit but also benefit local economies. I’ve put a series of questions to Scottish ministers to see what they could do now to emulate that success, and put our financial sector on a firmer footing.”

Sparkassen banks in Germany not only provide finance but also support sustainable development in the local economy in their area. They exercise significant social responsibility well beyond the provision of banking services. They are also widely credited with playing a major role in the success of the German economy over the last 60 years through their support for small and medium sized business.  

In today’s Commons debate Mr Leslie called on George Osborne to resist pressure from the banking sector to be allowed to raise the amount which they pay in bonuses.