Examination of Witnesses

Part of Financial Services Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:11 pm on 19th November 2020.

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Fran Boait:

I welcome the Help-to-Save scheme, but again, I point to the wider issue—it is the focus of what Positive Money does—of how the financial services sector contributed to the global crash, which has undermined a lot of our economy in terms of people being able to meet living standards, pay bills and so on. Critically, we have to understand that where the money goes from financial services really determines that shape of the UK economy. If most of the money goes into property and financial markets, which it does, and we have four big banks occupying pretty much the whole market in the UK, as Jesse mentioned, we have an economy that has an oversized finance sector and property bubbles, and we have less money going into creating jobs, supporting small and medium-sized businesses and getting into people’s wages. We have a crisis of living standards in this country, as well as a household debt crisis. I am not a debt specialist, but I welcome some of the changes put forward for breathing space and debt repayments.

Again, we need not only to look at fixing some of the symptoms, but to think about the cause. I sound a bit like a broken record, but this is why, unless we get a grip on the direction of the financial services sector that we want—whether we want financial services to serve the UK domestic economy and not just international financial markets—I do not see us really stemming the problems with problem debt, limited savings and incredibly low savings across low-income households in the short, medium and long term.