A contented customer at the Lodge Lane Credit Union
One of the problems of the Liverpool economy is that it leaks like a colander. A really rich society keeps its money and circulates it locally. A poorer community lets it leak away too quickly.
Then fact is that Liverpool could be a much more prosperous city if we did think more carefully on an individual basis about how we spend, invest and use our own money.
When the Liverpool Lib Dem manifesto comes out in a couple of weeks’ time it will have all sorts of ideas about how we can improve our economy. Not all those ideas are new. Indeed many of them have been around for decades but in many cases we have failed to get fully behind those ideas to make more than a side show of them.
This blog is not about telling you policies that I are the council can implement. It is more about looking at things we can all do now and in which the council, can help you and the organisations with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. This is particularly important for me as a politician. Too often politicians have one rule for them and produce policies for others; and one rule for themselves as they do things which are entirely different.
The first area that I want to look at is personal savings and banking.
Erica and I keep our savings in two places.
Firstly we (and all our grandchildren) have accounts with the Lodge Lane Credit Union. I went to their AGM last week and an excellent event with excellent reports it was too. In fact they proposed a rate of dividend for their accounts which is better than any bank will pay for cash deposits. So we got a good rate of interest. All the money stayed in Liverpool; the staff all got paid in Liverpool and the profit stayed in Liverpool. Our manifesto will suggest that the Council should and must do more to promote Credit Unions.
Secondly we have some longer term savings which we keep in the Furness Building Society. I have severe attended the AGM of the Society but I do read their annual report. They look after our money well; they don’t employ trickery to give you good interest rates one minute and miniscule rates the next; they are headquartered in the North West. Staff are well but not opulently paid and they donate money to local good causes.
Both these organisations take money in locally but crucially lend it locally as well. A sustainable of cycle of lending and borrowing is achieved with minimal leakage from our area and satisfactory rates being achieved for both borrowers and lenders.
The second area where Erica and I are conscious of our money is how we spend it. Whenever possible we use small local shops on Allerton Road or the Famer’s Market which is on Allerton Road on the third Saturday of every month. Probably 805 of our food is bought this way and 80% of our drink (we also buy locally brewed beer from the excellent Londis on Penny Lane). We don’t eat out much but when we do we normally eat in a small local restaurant.
Buying from a local business rather than a chain keeps their profits local to be re-spent; provides better choice and they usually provide better working conditions. So we get better food, better choice and support not only the initial business but local supply chains which employ more people rather than bringing in food and drink by the lorry load from goodness k now’s where.
Of course you can only take this so far. You cannot but a Liverpool made computer and most clothing you now buy from a chain store (although my daughters are very taken with a made to measure shop on Allerton Road which produces clothes for their kids. Almost all the presents I buy come from Voglio on Allerton Road and they but most of their products locally.
Our manifesto will talk about increased aid for operations like REX Liverpool and Independent Liverpool who act to assist small local businesses develop better and bigger local markets.
Lastly an area in which Erica and I would like to but involved but currently cannot be. We would like to find a mechanisms for investing in local businesses. Too many investment decisions about small and medium enterprises are made far, far away from Liverpool. Many people tell me that they too would like to find a way of investing some of their savings in their own community.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto will suggest the establishment of an internet based Peer to Peer Lending mechanism in Liverpool which will cheaply and efficiently link investors with companies with good ideas at a favourable rate of interests because costs are kept low.
If Liverpool is ever to become a wealthy city it must capture its own wealth and use it better. That what happened in our City’s heyday. The ship owners and merchants set up their own banks, and insurance companies. Poorer people set up their own building societies, at one time Liverpool had seven. There were a whole series of mechanisms put in place by Liverpool people to help Liverpool people.
We cannot replace that today. But we can move towards it. If we do so there is a role for everyone in that set of activities. Whether we have a few pennies; a few pounds or a few hundred pounds a series of small decisions by the 460,000 people who live in Liverpool could make a massive difference to our economy. The role of the council is NOT to do any of that but to assist in making in happen.
That will be a key theme of all parts of the Lib Dem manifesto. I hope you are eagerly awaiting its publication!!!