Abandon fiscal constraints and end bank subsidies to repair our struggling economy

In the past few years, the UK has faced a series of challenges including a global pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis, and the ongoing issue of climate change. These challenges have exacerbated poverty, stretched public services to their limits, and kept living standards stagnant. Despite these pressing issues, political parties in the UK have ruled out tax increases and borrowing, opting to stick to fiscal rules that limit their ability to invest in vital areas. One area that presents an opportunity for savings is the interest payments made by the Bank of England to commercial banks on reserves.

The Bank of England has been making significant interest payments to commercial banks, amounting to billions of pounds in recent years. These payments, along with losses incurred by the Bank when selling off government bonds bought during quantitative easing, have resulted in a significant burden on taxpayers and additional borrowing. Various proposals have been put forward to address this issue, including slowing down quantitative tightening and changing the financial relationship between the Bank of England and the Treasury.

One alternative solution proposed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) is tiering the interest paid on reserves. By forcing banks to hold some reserves that pay no interest, substantial savings could be achieved while still allowing the Bank of England to implement monetary policy effectively. This approach has been endorsed by economists, former central bankers, and even some political parties, highlighting its potential to reduce unnecessary subsidies to the banking sector.

FAQs

What is tiering reserves?

Tiering reserves is a policy that involves forcing banks to hold some reserves that pay no interest. This system can help reduce unnecessary subsidies to the banking sector while still allowing the central bank to implement monetary policy effectively.

How much could the UK save by tiering reserves?

According to the NEF’s calculations, tiering reserves could save up to £55 billion in the next five years. This approach has the potential to address the issue of significant interest payments made by the Bank of England to commercial banks.

Conclusion

Instead of relying on fiscal tricks that simply move costs around, the UK needs policies that will have a real and meaningful impact on the economy. Addressing the issue of interest payments by implementing tiered reserves is one such policy that could not only save billions of pounds but also reduce unnecessary subsidies to the banking sector. It is crucial for the government to consider alternative solutions that prioritize the revitalization of public services, protection of people from the cost-of-living crisis, and the combatting of climate change. By replacing outdated fiscal rules with more flexible mechanisms, such as fiscal referees, the UK can better navigate its economic challenges and create a more sustainable future for all.

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