By Carl Hasty, Director of Smart Currency Business
With debate raging about the best way to offload the Government’s substantial stakes in Lloyds and RBS, and Policy Exchange this week championing a share dispersal to taxpayers, one viewpoint that has been overlooked is that of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
Including SMEs in any potential allocation of shares would enable Britain’s 4.8million smaller companies to have a say in the banking sector and its support (or lack thereof) for their businesses.
As shareholders, SMEs would be entitled to vote on the banks’ leadership and management structure, and have a much stronger voice in venting their opposition to restrictive bank lending, excessive fees and poor quality service, all of which are a major drag on their everyday operations.
Moreover, if shares were distributed according to Policy Exchange’s risk-free model, SMEs would be given a secure asset which could be sold for a profit should share prices rise, or used as collateral against borrowing — both of which would unlock capital to fund their expansion and increase their pool of 23.9million employees.
Given that SMEs are crying out for more Government assistance to help overcome spiralling costs, and the importance of these firms in getting the UK’s economic recovery underway, a proposal that is cost-free to the Government yet brings substantial business and public benefits is a rare opportunity that shouldn’t be readily squandered.