New call for bank funding

Master Cutler Prof Bill Speirs and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, pictured at the Cutlers' Feast in May 2011
Master Cutler Prof Bill Speirs and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, pictured at the Cutlers' Feast in May 2011
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Master Cutler Professor Bill Speirs has called on London’s Lord Mayor to persuade the Government and banks to boost funding for manufacturing.

Prof Speirs made the call at the Cutlers’ Company Forfeit Feast.

He told the Lord Mayor of London, Michael Bear, and other guests: “We need liquidity to grow. Without funds, the green shoots of growth will shrivel.”

The Master Cutler said the Government wanted the private sector to create jobs for people being made redundant in the public sector, but the private sector had to grow before it could create jobs.

“Without growth, we don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of employing more people,” Prof Speirs added.

The Master Cutler’s call came as his principal guest at the Cutlers’ Feast, earlier this year, leading industry guru, Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, was calling on the Government to set up a new bank for industry.

Lord Bhattacharyya the Warwick University professor who has advised government on scientific, industrial and technological issues and founded the Warwick Manufacturing Group returned to one of the themes of his speech to May’s 375th Cutlers’ Feast in an interview with the Financial Times.

During his speech at the Feast, the Labour peer said capital investment was one of the essential ingredients if the Government was serious about manufacturing playing a lead role in rebuilding the economy.

Lord Bhattacharyya went on to call on the Government to ensure there was support for lending to industry in the medium term, either through plans for a green Industrial Bank or by using the taxpayer’s stakes in nationalised banks.

Now, he has dismissed efforts by five leading high street banks to set up a £2.5 billion Business Growth Fund as “peanuts” compared to the investment that was needed if Britain was serious about growth in manufacturing.

Lord Bhattacharyya says an industrial bank would need several billion pounds to invest at rates well above the £250m a year envisaged by the Business Growth Fund.

n The Star opinion: P8

n Yorkshire firms still lack the confidence to invest for growth, as weak domestic demand and cost pressures continue to dent profits, according to the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds TSB Commercial. The bank says failure to invest could damage an already fragile recovery.

n Sheffield is a hotbed of fashion talent, with threads made in the city in demand all over the world.

Read the rags to riches stories of four of our brightest stars in Business Monthly in the Star tomorrow.