Our All Party Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking is driven primarily by the needs of businesses in our constituencies. It is an excellent example of how, despite what can often be ‘lively’ exchanges across the benches in the Chamber, parliamentarians from across the political spectrum can come together to make a difference in driving change for our constituents. The APPG’s aim is to give a voice to the businesses in our local areas, not just at events and debates, but in the form of effecting long-term structural and legislative reforms to make a more level playing field between banks and their small business clients.
We have scrutinised individual and group issues brought to the APPG’s attention and have identified some key systemic problems that are the common to thousands of constituent cases, regardless of lender.
Crucially, we have also been engaging with regulators, industry trade bodies, campaign groups, academics, professional advisors, civil society and businesses to identify objectives —on both a voluntary level within industry as well as on a legislative level—that are both achievable and transformative for commercial banking relationships.
At the heart of our considerations is the principle of a fair and reasonable relationship between the businesses in our constituencies and their lenders. We can no longer say that it is just a matter of ‘cultural change’ that is required. We strongly believe that we must start to effectively tackle the gaps in law and regulation that have allowed the breakdown in relationships between businesses and their lenders.
Critically, the work of the APPG is not just focused on the problems that our constituents face, but also on the solutions that can be implemented. There is a desperate need to address the problems that have beset the financial services industry over the past decade, and there is an urgent plea from businesses to be given the level playing field that they require to be competitive. Ultimately, we want to create real, workable solutions for UK business.
George Kerevan, MP (SNP)