Did you feel it yesterday? The gentle slide of a Government hand into your wallet to extricate more of your cash to prop up the banks? Chancellor Darling once again decided to hand over thirty three and a half billion to Royal Bank of Scotland, and a trifling five point seven billion to Lloyds. “We are creating a strong and vibrant financial services sector for the future” he said. It must be true then, even though it seems like utter madness to give yet more of taxpayers cash to a sector which hasn’t yet recovered from its last crisis Incidentally, yesterday’s cash gift was actually bigger than the original brown envelope last year, so the problem does rather appear to be getting worse, not better).
He also seemed elated by the news that – so soon after the Great British Public gift-wrapped so much of their hard-earned cash to the banks, RBS and Lloyds were now selling off hundreds of their branches. According to the BBC, RBS will sell of over three hundred branches, whilst Lloyds will dispose of around six hundred.
And why? Enter European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who has decided that there’s just too much of a monopoly bubbling away in the High Street. Fortunately Zurich, Generali and Allianz are waiting in the wings to buy the branches – all good solid British names there – and Chancellor Darling admits he’d like to see “perhaps three new entrants to the High Street”. That’s all good news then.
Oh – and you’ll doubtless be overjoyed to hear that board members from both RBS and Lloyds have agreed to ‘defer any bonus payments’ due to them until 2012.
Perhaps we should have a whip round for their Christmas dinner?