Banks

For the first time in five years my bank manager wants to meet me. What’s more, he’s so keen on the meeting that he is coming out to me. Initially I was worried; what could I have done, what was the problem? But then I found out that others, self-employed like me, are also being contacted and visited. So what’s this all about – are the banks starting a we-love-our-customers initiative? Maybe they are just showing interest [pun intended].

Well I don’t know, but it will be nice to see him again and to ask him face to face why they still insist on charging me for everything they do on my behalf.

I opened my account with NatWest because they have English call centres and offered an initial eighteen-months free business banking. For a further two years, at my request, they continued with the free banking. The criteria for this was that my account is ‘a nice little account, no trouble, no debt and no real work for the bank’ other than holding my money until the taxman or the VAT man wanted it. I even took out my offset mortgage with them. So they have total access to all of my money.

Then, about eighteen months ago he said “No! We are not allowed to cancel charges anymore – sorry.” And I thought OK, I’ve had a good run and if the government see the need to give banks multiple £billions, then maybe I shouldn’t complain.

But now they are taking the Mickey. Not only did they (the banks generally, not mine specifically) take the government’s money (OUR money) and NOT spread it around to help homeowners and business – especially small businesses, but they are still taking money from the government. Those of you that are less mathematically challenged than I might argue that my reasoning here is flawed but I believe that banks (especially in my case) are denying HMG of tax revenue. E.G:

I now pay bank charges: I’m not sure how much per annum but let’s say £300 (they even charge me 66p per £100 for taking money out of the ATM; 60p [ish] for any form of money in [cheques, cash, BACs] and a similar amount for money out AND a service charge of around £10 p.m.)

That £300 used to be counted as part of my profit and was therefore taxed accordingly. Lets be generous and say that 25% of this went to HMG. Nowadays, that £300 counts as an expense against my tax, so HMG is deprived of that £75 and I’m paying £225 more than I used to.

My issue, other than paying more than I should, is that the £75 tax did more to support the country than the extra £225 I’m paying to the bank. It may sound quaintly altruistic but if I’m paying tax (lots of tax) I’d rather it was used to pay teachers and nurses than to supplement fat cat banking bonuses.

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