Tuesday 11 January 2011

More banking....

I was in the BBC Millbank studios again last night. Last time it was to be interviewed by the great Robert Peston for his package on Bank bonuses for the News on Thursday. Did you see it? Unfortunately I was put walking the Hound so missed it but was told it was effective (Mother thought I was looking tired!).

This time it was for BBC Wales and an on air live discussion with an economist Professor Gerald Holtham about my call for a tax on bonuses to go to charity. I hope I gave a fair presentation of our case, and at least I had air time to once again highlight the problems that our sector face with a gaping hole on funding opening up.

We have been getting a lot of attention on this issue. Indeed we are apparently being reported in many places, not least the Hindustan Times and Qatar News. I feature in Blogs (one with the charming heading of "pipe down Sir Stephen"!). But more importantly, also The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. A sympathetic philanthropy journal in the States reports,

"The head of the U.K. Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations Stephen Bubb, is calling for a 50 percent tax on the bonuses that bankers are getting this year. Good for him! In the U.S., after having driven the economy into a devastating recession, banks are raking in record profits, even after they repay some of their TARP subsidies, and they have rewarded their top staff with amazingly lucrative bonuses.

Bubb is soon to be knighted. Perhaps the new title will help Sir Bubb push through his tough, creative proposal that he hopes will generate funding for Prime Minister David Cameron's big society bank.

The U.S. government has jawboned against these types of bonuses and in some cases has gotten top bankers to forego their six-and seven-figure treats. British bankers will get an estimated £7 billion in bonuses this year. Getting them to dedicate half that sum to the big society bank would be a kickstart and a half for the Tory/Liberal government's social program. Which U.S. nonprofits will call on this nation's banking sector to dedicate half of its huge recession surplus to American charities? — Rick Cohen."

Now it is sad that this has also involved a significant number of thoroughly offensive emails from bankers and calls to our office where members of staff have been abused down the phone. We have had to tell staff that their job does not involve having to put up with bankers who think they can behave in such a way. Of course this simply reinforces the view that many have that the banking industry is out of touch and does not understand the justifiable concern that we as taxpayers have about their behaviour when we bailed the banks out. We hear a lot about "bank bashing" but certain members of that profession think nothing of phoning ACEVO to "bash" us over the phone!

But you need a thick skin when you work in our sector and I was delighted that a colleague and former ACEVO member Sir Deian Hopkins, who was Vice Chancellor of London South Bank University, wrote to me to say,

"I was delighted at your New Year's message (The Times). I understand you have been having a few protests from those who have much and give little - frankly, there are far more of us out there who applaud your leadership and your advocacy of social justice. We live in difficult times - or, more correctly, we are about to live in even more difficult times. Yet, there is little sign that those who have profited in the past, including some who have been responsible for the economic problems we all face, are prepared to accept their share of responsibility. So your message was bound to hit a raw nerve, and so it should!! Long may you continue to be a scourge for the privileged, not can I envisage anyone preventing you from speaking your mind. Now you have this new status, you can make even more noise and even more loudly!"

And Deian, I shall!

1 comment:

Nick Davies said...

Most bankers, certainly the well paid ones, will already pay 50% tax on their bonuses.