by Stephen Tall on November 12, 2011
A quick round-up of four Lib Dem stories not otherwise covered here on Lib Dem Voice this week…
Nick Clegg is to sanction a review into how banks are treating women customers after being “horrified” by suggestions that female entrepreneurs and businesswomen were finding it harder than men to access loans. The deputy prime minister told the Financial Times that he had asked Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem equalities minister, to look into whether banks were behaving illegally on the heels of a damning report by Noreena Hertz, a professor at Duisenberg School of Finance.
Mr Clegg, who has read a copy of Ms Hertz’s report, said he was “shocked” by the findings. “If banks are discriminating against women it is not only completely unacceptable, it is illegal,” said the deputy prime minister’s spokesperson. “Professor Hertz has produced an important report and it deserves to be properly investigated by the government,” he added. Ms Featherstone is to look into the issue and report back on whether further action needs to be taken.
Having served longer in his post than any pensions minister in the last government, much has been made of Steve Webb’s longevity, and the Liberal Democrat MP is naturally thinking about his legacy. All of Webb’s headline plans are linked to auto-enrolment. With millions due to join workplace pensions for the first time next year, he does not want to be remembered as the pensions minister who destroyed their savings with high charges and means testing. The next project is avoiding the creation of millions of small pension accounts. Webb has dismissed the existing solution, short service refunds, in which short-term employee contributions are handed back to savers.
‘The point of auto-enrolment is pensions, not cash back,’ he said. ‘We will try to free up transfers and at the same time sort out short service refunds. But I have been quite clear: you can’t have short service refunds as part of the long-term architecture.’