Cable bid to boost bank lending

Penarth Times: Vince Cable is to pledge to boost British industry in a speech to the Lib Dem conference Vince Cable is to pledge to boost British industry in a speech to the Lib Dem conference

Business Secretary Vince Cable will admit the Government needs to do more to get banks lending to small firms, warning of a "serious risk that recovery will be throttled by lack of finance".

Speaking to the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Gateshead, Mr Cable will renew his assault on top pay, telling delegates there is "no justification" for the soaring salaries and bonuses handed out over the past decade.

And he will promise to pursue an "active government" strategy to boost British industry, through initiatives like the Regional Growth Fund, support for apprenticeships and a new approach to Government procurement to ensure that UK companies are considered for major contracts. He will take on critics by insisting that Government cannot "sit on the sidelines" when it could be taking action to support businesses.

In a letter to the Prime Minister leaked earlier this week, Mr Cable advocated splitting up the largely state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland to create a British Business Bank with a mandate to expand lending rapidly to sound enterprises.

He will tell the Lib Dem conference: "In the aftermath of the banking crash there is a serious risk that recovery will be throttled by lack of finance.

"If Britain is to emerge from this dreadful crisis, business needs access to finance, just as plants need water - and the banks aren't supplying it. We can get the partly state-owned banks to lend more. This has been done to a degree, but we must do more.

"We can also try to mobilise some new sources of funding - supply chain finance from big companies; business angels and venture capital; pension funds and insurance companies, investors in a potential industrial bank - this has already been happening, but will move faster with Government support."

Mr Cable will say that the recent announcement by car giant Nissan of plans to build a new model in Sunderland was the result of ministers' active engagement.

"This project didn't fall from the skies; it was the result of a lot of hard work and negotiation, our support for the company and the car industry, including support from the Regional Growth Fund," he will say.

"It is because I believe that government can be a force for good that I am developing an industrial strategy at the heart of the coalition Government's commitment to grow our way out of our inheritance of debt and broken banks."

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