Charlie Mullins: Use bank fines for apprenticeships, startup loans, mentoring and training

I’ve always said the best way to deliver some scrap of public benefit for the unscrupulous actions of the bankers is to stick them in the stocks and let them enjoy the taste of rotten fruit and veg. 

However, I think a better option has been put on the table that doesn’t just satisfy my distain for the “city boys”, but also my determination to create more apprentices.

If the Conservatives win the election this week, the party have said that fines imposed on Deutsche Bank for its involvement in rigging interest rates would be used to fund 50,000 apprenticeships.

The £200m cost of the scheme will be paid for out of the £227m fine that Deutsche Bank received last week for trying to manipulate Libor and Euribor inter-bank lending rates.

Okay, it doesn’t perhaps make the bankers feel any more shame about what they’ve done apart from hitting them in their pockets, but this kind of financial community service is a sure fire way to help fund important schemes such as apprenticeships.

Of course, this is not a new idea. Armed forces charities have received millions of pounds from Libor fines, and proves that it’s a potentially solid source of income for the government based upon the way the city operates.

After all, as sure as eggs are eggs, you can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be another bank that’ll be slapped with a fine that’ll be up in the millions, or even billions, in the next few years, that could be used to boost the economy. 

And let’s not forget the utility companies who are not averse to being slapped with the odd fine, like SSE, which was hit with a £10.5m fine for mis-selling gas and electricity two years ago.

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I’m not talking about using it for frontline services like the NHS and transport, but to top up or even replace money that is used for things like startup loans for small businesses, mentoring schemes and, of course, training.

When these fines come rolling in, it will also prevent public money from being diverted or taken away from the most important elements of running our country such as health, education and the essential parts of welfare.

Instead it will give a boost to charities, not-for-profit organisations and businesses that are focused on improving the lives of people in this country through the provision of skills and, ultimately, employment. 

This idea is also an opportunity to deliver transparent government, and for that matter transparent big business, by creating an easily accessible website that shows who’s been fined, how much the country has clawed back and, most importantly, what the money has been used for.

And it doesn’t have to stop there. Perhaps the big firms that have been avoiding tax would be welcome additions to the listing with any fines they have to pay used to help apprenticeships and other worthwhile business schemes and initiatives?

Either way, while we shouldn’t encourage the dubious actions of those in the city, rather than the fines disappearing somewhere in the public finances there might as well be some benefit to others, be they a 16 year-old apprentice, their employer or an enterprise being started in a new entrepreneur’s bedroom.

Frankly, there might as well be a silver lining around the black cloud that hangs over the bankers.

Image: Shutterstock

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