I know from talking with many people, and local small businesses, that over recent years there has been a loss of trust in banks and other financial institutions. Most small savers are effectively paying banks to hold their savings with interest rates near zero and, together with bank charges, many are in reality facing negative interest rates.
Small businesses all too often in recent years have faced additional burdens. Indeed, the behaviors of some banks have been widely condemned as they have in effect ruined perfectly viable local businesses through unforgiveable practices such as bank loans being manipulated and leading to asset stripping. RBS has probably been the most prominent culprit via its GRG division, but other banks too have squeezed the life out of many small businesses.
That’s why when I was an MP, I was a member of an all-party group for “Fair Business Banking”. When I left parliament, I was then appointed as an Ambassador for the all-party group, and I continue to fight for a fair deal for individuals and small businesses alike. Last year, I was also appointed as an adviser to Northern Ireland’s all-party “Fair Banking and Finance” group. However, I have been surprised to find there is no equivalent cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament.
Therefore, if I become the MSP for Falkirk East, I intend taking the lead in creating a cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament, similar to those at Westminster and in Northern Ireland, to fight for a fairer deal for the people of Scotland, including our local small businesses.
I know from my discussions locally, that there are many small businesses in our community that would benefit from fairer dealings from their banks, as would many individuals. I intend using my experience and knowledge to ensure their case is heard and reform put on the agenda. I’ll be fighting for you.