Reports I am getting from business and individuals in my constituency and from the wider country tell me that banks are reluctant to lend, require huge amounts of paperwork, and impose very high charges if they do decide they will provide some finance. Recent figures show there is still a lending problem in our economy. A new generation of potential homeowners cannot get mortgages, and many businesses struggle for loans to help them grow.
Anti Money laundering is an absurd paperchase. Most banks still seem to think that having an authenticated copy of your passport and a utility bill will mean the money they are receiving is not laundered. It is completely ridiculous. Money launderers have passports and homes with utility bills. If they do not, they would happily forge or steal the necessary documents, as one more offence would not make a great deal of difference to their criminal record should they get caught. The whole thing has become like the sale of indulgences against sin, with the victim having to pay for a lawyer to countersign the documents to prove who he or she is, even though the Bank should know exactly who he or she is.
The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 do indeed ask the business to “verify the customers identity on the basis of documents, data or information obtained from a reliable and independent source”. Many businsses do this to death, requiring expensive signed copies of documents from people they know well. It also requires business to “obtain information on the purpose and intended nature of the business relationship”, which few seem to bother about and which does not lead to all sorts of standardised box tickings,.
Banks used to regard property as a good asset for security. Now they seem to dislike property, saying they have too many loans against it already. If they do go ahead, the new system of property transfer has been made cumbersome and much more expensive, with endless enquiries concerning energy efficiency, appliances in the property, past conformity with planning and Building Regulations, Stamp Duty rules and the rest.
Anyone seeking to gain permission for property improvement or alteration now faces a much longer and more expensive process than a few years ago. Bat, newt and other surveys can delay works by more than a year.
It is no wonder it is difficult getting growth back again in our economy. There is so much regulation that is either of dubious value, or over the top in the way it is implemented, that it is easier just to say when faced with the idea of a new project “I cannot be bothered”. So many public bodies, and some advisers in the private sector, now see any glimmer of enterprise as an opportunity to demand more fees and charges before allowing people to go ahead.