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Much to please City but doubts remain

WHEN George Osborne delivered his first major speech earlier this week, he ended on an upbeat note. He said there was lots the City should be proud of – “pensions, insurance... accountancy and legal services” – but one industry was notable by it’s absence. Yep, you guessed it: banking is still persona non grata, public enemy number one, every politician’s favourite pariah.

For virtually every other business but the banks, there was much to be happy about in yesterday’s coalition agreement. Corporation tax will be cut, although probably by less than originally envisaged, while the government seems serious about a bonfire of red-tape.

Employers will also be relieved that the government will fight the European Union Working Time Directive, that would usher in a wave of Spanish practices when Britain should be aiming for American levels of productivity.

Local media companies will find it easier to survive thanks to a change in rules governing partnerships, while the excesses of state-funded media will be reined in. Even the BBC must become more accountable.

Some measures were less welcome, of course. Uncertainty for non-doms, an immigration cap and no more runways will make Britain less competitive on the international stage.

And the sound of estate agents popping champagne corks now that the much-hated home information packs have been consigned to history was drowned out by the hammering of the banks.

A commission on the break up of banks, a crackdown on bonuses, multiple levies, and net lending targets are just some of the measures set to hurt the industry. Anyone would think that politicians didn’t want them to return to health.