We’ll only win this war if banks lend



09:21 GMT, 4 December 2012

This was the day a senior executive of the Bank of England spelt out in graphic language the impact of the financial crisis, saying its effects on economic output and incomes were ‘as bad as a world war’.

It was also the day it emerged how disgracefully the banks are failing to help Britain recover from the disaster they created, while continuing to put their own interests before the country’s.

Shocking new figures show that between July and September, High Street lenders drew 4.4billion from the Bank’s Funding for Lending scheme – the money they’re offered at rock-bottom interest rates to pass on to borrowers most in need of it.

Sympathetic: Executive Director Andy Haldane said: 'There is every reason why the general public ought to be deeply upset by what has happened - and angry'

Sympathetic: Executive Director Andy Haldane said: 'There is every reason why the general public ought to be deeply upset by what has happened – and angry'

Yet of this, only a small fraction reached the small businesses and first-time buyers for whom it was intended, with the City’s net lending increasing by less than 500million.

To their deep discredit, some banks which drew heavily on the fund – including state-backed Lloyds and RBS – allowed their net lending to fall during the scheme’s first three months, blaming the need to write off toxic debts.

More damning still, there is strong evidence that much of the cheap money made available under the scheme was advanced in low-risk loans to comfortably-off homebuyers who could raise large deposits – the sort of people least in need of special help.

With countless small businesses crying out for affordable loans to help them survive and expand – and a generation of young people unable to get their foot on the first rung of the housing ladder – this is a betrayal on a monumental scale.

In his blunt analysis of the City’s conduct before and since the crisis, Bank Executive Director Andy Haldane said: ‘There is every reason why the general public ought to be deeply upset by what has happened – and angry.’

Until the banks face their responsibility to lend again, the anger can only grow.

Common sense test

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Years after this paper first highlighted a scandal which has already cost lives, an all-party group of MPs finds that NHS patients are still at risk from foreign doctors with a poor grasp of English.

The Health Select Committee says ministers have made ‘no substantive progress’ towards overturning EU rules which ban members from subjecting migrant workers to language tests.

How much longer can it take to convince Brussels of the common sense that doctors must be able to understand their patients, and vice versa
The warning comes as it emerges that locums are being paid as much as 1,200 a day to work out-of-hours – one more disastrous consequence of Labour’s botched renegotiation of GPs’ contracts, which allowed them to opt out of evening and weekend duty.

No wonder so many EU doctors are lured to Britain, where 23,000 are registered to work without checks.

If Brussels persists in banning language tests, ministers should adopt the solution favoured by most of our continental partners – and simply ignore the rules.

Warmest wishes

True, they might have preferred to wait a few weeks for the perfect moment. And the hearts of millions of mothers who have suffered morning sickness will go out to the Duchess of Cambridge today.

But if all goes well, God willing, the misery will be forgotten in the joy to come.

The Mail congratulates Prince William and the Duchess.

Amid the economic gloom, at the outset of what threatens to be an icy winter, they have given the nation news to warm all but the most curmudgeonly of hearts.