News >> Calls for support for a community bank

Calls for support for a community bank

Wednesday, 28 February, 2018

WHAT if there was a bank that put people before profits?

A meeting , date to be announced, will launch a community savings bank for the South West with the aim of supporting local businesses and investing money locally, in areas such as health, housing and small businesses.

The event in Bridport, Dorset, organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), is part of a movement led by the Community Savings Bank Association to develop a UK-wide network of customer-owned, regional banks as an alternative to conventional banking. 
Tim Crabtree, a social entrepreneur and senior lecturer in MA Economics at Schumacher College at Dartington, in Devon, is supporting the project and hopes local organisations will get on board.

"A key issue for towns across the south west is ensuring that there are enough well paid jobs for young people. This requires investment, but the national banks have been shown to be failing small and medium sized businesses.

“We need a bank that will invest locally and we need local people to provide the finance. A good slogan would be ‘Savings not Suitcases’ – if we don't use our savings to support local businesses, then young people will have to pack their suitcases and leave the town."

Tim was involved in setting up the Wessex Reinvestment Trust, a project which has lent over £8 million to low income householders for home improvements and provided support to 40 community land trust housing projects, with 140 houses already built.

He also set up scheme using community shares, called Dorset Community Energy, where £500,000 was raised from local social investors to put solar panels on 12 schools and four community buildings.

“Traditional banks often invest our money in the wrong places and in the wrong sort of things,” he added.   “If you put money into a high Street bank in Devon or Cornwall it is not likely to get reinvested in Devon or Cornwall.”

He said loan funds and community shares were vital tools for local economic development, as well as a bank that is able take deposits.

He added: “Such a highly regulated activity needs significant resources to get started, though recent legislation has made it a little easier and the support of the RSA has proved to be very important. However the most important factor will be getting the support of local people.”

The event is being hosted by Tony Greenham, director of economics at the RSA. One of the charity’s key recommendations in a recent report designed to find practical ways to make local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous was to establish more regional banks around the UK.  Unlike in many European and Asian countries, as well as Canada and the USA, regional banks are not embedded in the UK’s banking sector.

The meeting, the first in a series of launch events across the region has been cancelled due to the winter storm, however we will update on future meetings.  Tickets are free and are available here