We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Government business loan plan threatens taxpayer with all the risks and no rewards

January 13, 2009 6:30 PM
Vince Cable [Photo: LDD Pics]

Vince has criticised government plans to take on even more risk

Commenting on reports that the Government is planning to guarantee up to £20bn of loans to small businesses, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said: "The Government's proposal, essentially the same as that of the Conservatives, potentially involves very large taxpayer liabilities and is in effect a subsidy to bank lending."

"We worry that this is another instance of the taxpayer shouldering all of the risks without any of the rewards. It is also an expensive approach when others have not yet been explored.

"The simple and obvious issue which has to be raised is why the partially-nationalised banks are not being required by the Government to maintain the flows of lending.

"It is partly that there is a confusion in the objectives the Government is setting the banks - telling them to lend more but also hold more in reserve and rapidly repay Government loans.

"But more than that, the Government seems to lack the bottle to break the banks' lending strike. It finds it much easier to use taxpayer-financed guarantees than to get tough on the taxpayers' behalf.

"In our view, the partially-nationalised banks like RBS should be brought fully under Government control in order to perform the function of lending to sound British businesses. That is more likely to achieve the required objective than vast, potentially open-ended guarantees."