Banks should be forced to break up, says IPPR thinktank

Institute for Public Policy Research report says government has been ‘too timid’ and should force retail and investment bank split

Banks should be broken up to help stimulate competition in the financial sector and cut the cost of services to customers, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank.

The IPPR accused the government of being “too timid” and said a split of retail and investment banks should be forced.

It argued this would make the system safer and lessen the chances of the taxpayer having to pump funds into banks in the future by ensuring that no bank is “too big to fail” or “too big to bail out”.

The Don’t Bank On It report said customers are paying substantial fees and charges because competition has been distorted and regulation has not been effective historically.

It argued that the UK’s large financial sector, relative to other similar economies, is a “source of strength”, but the challenge to policymakers is how to reduce its associated costs without damaging it.

Competition in banking should be increased by making it easier for new players to enter the market, the report argued.

It also suggested that policymakers might have to look at putting greater curbs on mortgages to lessen the chances of any return to potentially risky lending.

This could involve setting maximum loan-to-value and loan-to-income ratios on mortgages, the left-of-centre thinktank said.

The report said the Bank of England should be particularly concerned about any institution which records a sharp increase in its share of the mortgage market.

Meanwhile, risk-taking in investment banking should be reduced, with more done to make senior directors and managers liable for financial losses when something goes wrong, the report said. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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