Regional economic strategy is now being taken more seriously. Localise West Midland’s Andrew Lydon has been examining the collection of regional prosperity and inflation indices in this and other countries for some time and has corresponded with MPs and government departments on the subject.18 months ago the Statistics Authority told the Office of National Statistics to look at setting of regional and social inflation indices as Andrew had recommended.
In the March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that Government will present evidence on the case for the introduction of regional pay structures in some civil service sectors.
John Nightingale* recently wrote an article, Rebuilding Trust in the Regions, now published in the Good Banking Forum – which includes a range of leading figures from academia, finance, politics, the law, trade unions, consumer and civil society groups who are demanding real reform of the banking sector. GBF challenges the limited scope of the Independent Commission on Banking and hopes to mobilise public pressure for good banking.
John asked whether banks could take remedial action regionally, for example by varying the rate of interest or giving preference to certain sorts of loans. He realises – however – that it is currently difficult to get a clear picture of regional economic activity, in absolute terms or in terms of trends, because too few statistics are published on a regional basis.
He pointed out that other countries, such as the United States and Germany, have a tradition of regional economic management and commented: “In the past there was some balance through the informal supervision of the commercial banks by the Bank of England. But it seems that in 1997 supervision was handed over to the Financial Services Authority, which was more concerned to root out dishonesty and corruption than with economic performance.”
Asking if banks could take remedial action regionally, by varying the rate of interest or giving preference to certain sorts of loans, he also contemplates the advisability of a switch away from lending to purchase property and other fixed assets, into industry.
Could banks be persuaded to realise that helping to develop flourishing regional economies would be to their long-term advantage – and move in this direction?
In the ongoing discussion of banking reforms, John Nightingale urges that attention be given to the position of the regions, to ensure that:
- views of stakeholders in regions are represented to banks there;
- stakeholders have an opportunity to monitor bank activity;
- known and thereby accountable representatives from the regions are included on national financial bodies;
- more statistics are made publicly available on a regional basis so that all stakeholders can be better involved in the debate and consequent decisions.
His article may be read in full here.
*Canon John Nightingale: chairman of the West Midlands Jubilee Debt Campaign.