Postcode pressure on UK banks

The Bank of England in London. Photo: Jeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

After years of pressuring the banks to lend more, the government has come up with a new lever, persuading the banks to publish where they are being generous and where they are being stingy by postcode.

Increasing transparency is no bad thing and few would argue against this idea. But at the same time the government, or at least one of its ministers, have given more weight to the banks' own version of events.

They say they don't just struggle to find firms who want to borrow but that new rules imposed by the Bank of England make it harder too. Vince Cable, often a critic of the banks themselves has slammed the rules too, telling a newspaper the rules are like imposing a 'capital Taliban' that make it easier to operate.

The banks are not blameless and the need for tighter rules is understandable. But this acknowledgement from one of their fiercest critics gives weight to the argument that the government wants it both ways - banks to lend more, which means taking risk, and becoming safer too.