James Coney  

We must make the most of the lockdown sequel

James Coney

James Coney

Thankfully we are all learning how to change with the new times every day.

So just like all bad sequels, this one will be less scary and more predictable, though sadly it still contains the same main characters.

Banking bias

We are creating a band of second-class financial citizens across the economy. The self-employed and young people are at risk of becoming financial pariahs because of the way the current banking and insurance landscape is shaping up.

You cannot get a mortgage, your credit status is ruined and do not even think about applying for a life or income protection policy, particularly if you have suffered any kind of stress or anxiety.

This kind of separation between the haves and have-nots really is unhelpful for an economy that is trying to get back off its knees.

It is particularly devastating as it was the boom in the self-employed, people who created start-ups and the young people that went to work in our dotcom industries that helped Britain regain its status as a financial powerhouse after the last crisis.

Now these people are being treated appallingly. It is no surprise that a recession leads to credit tightening. It is no accident, though, when banks decide to pick and choose which customers to support the most.

Freedoms at work

I am getting a bit tired of the anti-pension freedom rhetoric. Latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions showed while the number of people cashing in pots had risen by 6 per cent to 347,000 in the third quarter of this year, the amount they took on average fell by 7 per cent to £6,700.

This is not people irresponsibly buying Lamborghinis; this is not even people buying a Ford Fiesta. It is people pragmatically taking out small pots – exactly the kind of thing the rules were designed for.

James Coney is money editor of The Times and The Sunday Times