Revealed: The £93m City lobby machine (excerpt):
The British financial services industry spent more than £92m last year lobbying politicians and regulators in an ‘economic war of attrition’ that has secured a string of policy victories.
As the industry prepares to fight off renewed calls for root-and-branch reform in response to the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, an investigation by the Bureau has revealed the firepower of the City’s lobbying machine, prompting concern that its scale and influence puts the interests of the wider economy in the shade.
The Bureau’s four-month study also gained previously undisclosed documents that show how finance lobbyists won a host of important policy changes in Whitehall and Westminster. These include:
• The slashing of UK corporation tax and taxes on banks’ overseas branches, after a lobbying barrage by the City of London Corporation, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and the Association of British Insurers. The reform will save the finance industry billions.
• The neutering of a national not-for-profit pension scheme launching in October that was supposed to benefit millions of low paid and temporary workers.
• The killing of government plans for a new corporate super-watchdog to police quoted companies.
I do worry that Britain’s financial sector, particularly the banks, is too dominant and is too easily assumed to represent the national interest.’
Vince Cable, business secretary
An extensive trawl of registries, consultations and hundreds of interviews has identified 129 organisations engaging in some form of lobbying for the finance sector, with over 800 people employed directly and at a cost of £92.8m. Lobbyists include in-house bank staff, public affairs consultancies, industry body representatives, law firms and management consultants.