Culture Shock

If all the recommendations in the Banking Commission’s long-awaited report on banking standards are implemented the banking industry will undergo a profound change in its operating culture.

We would argue that it is not only in banking and finance that a change in culture is long overdue following the 2008 credit crunch.

Businesses and consumers have already had to rethink the way they manage their finances. Businesses have been paying down debt and larger companies with comfortable capital reserves are not spending or investing. Consumers, too, are trying to repair their finances while coping with rising inflation and falling incomes.

Depending on which audience they are speaking to, however, Government seems to be wedded to austerity, sustainability or growth, as the solution to the UK’s economic ills.  

Every new monthly statistic is used to herald imminent recovery.  Most recently, new figures showing a 17% rise in mortgage lending in May 2013, compared to May 2012, will doubtless be seized on as evidence of success for schemes like Funding for Lending and the newer Help to Buy in stimulating home ownership.

Yet all the “experts” warn that without massive additional home building, they risk precipitating another housing bubble because the lack of affordable small homes will overinflate house prices.

With the homeless charity Shelter estimating that a first time buyer may have to spend 14 years raising the deposit to get on the property ladder, the chances are that consumers are already facing a massive culture change from home ownership to long-term renting, but without the tenancy protections that used to provide some security and continuity in living arrangements.

Is it time that politicians stopped grasping at short term electioneering straws and underwent their own cultural revolution to get real about economic life in the 21st Century?

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