Banking review a missed opportunity for Sparkasse-style community banking model

29 November 2022
  • Lack of explicit guarantees on local bank branches a cause for major concern

Labour finance spokesperson Ged Nash TD has today (Tuesday, 29th November) said the publication of the Banking Review Report is a missed opportunity for a Sparkassen-style community banking model.

Deputy Nash said:

“While the publication of the review is welcome and an important step in the development and evolution of a fit-for-purpose retail banking sector in Ireland it is a missed opportunity to commit to a Sparkasse-style community banking model.

“The scant guarantee that local bank branches will be fully protected is cause of tremendous worry and concern.”

“The reality is 14 years on from the financial crash, our country and its people are still living with its consequences. The scars caused by poor regulation of the banks and flawed political and economic decisions made in the 2000s are still evident on our society.

“Reduced competition, the high and growing cost of mortgages and access to affordable credit for SMEs have all impacted on our society. Banks need to move to a ‘stakeholder’ model and the Central Bank must demand that the retail banks must in future engage meaningfully with affected communities and insist that robust socio-economic analyses be undertaken before any bank is permitted to close a branch or move to a ‘cashless’ service.

“It is positive that reference is made to the need to legislate to provide for ‘access to cash’ with an initial benchmark of December 2022 levels, and we welcome the fact that the question of ‘acceptance of cash’ is being considered from a financial inclusion perspective.  We also welcome the review’s commitments in relation to financial literacy programmes. A key component of social inclusion should be measured by reasonable access to financial services in every community. No town should be left without a functioning bank branch.”

“Express support for a new strategy and direction for credit unions is also to be welcomed.

“We support the position of the Financial Services Union (FSU) in relation to the proposals on variable pay and access to other modest benefits that are available to workers across the financial services sector.

“This move has the potential to benefit up to 20,000 moderately paid staff. I am hopeful that this will now give unions the green light to engage in normal collective bargaining processes with employers which will, I hope, lead to the hugely profitable banks engaging in profit-sharing with their hardworking staff.”

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