Britain’s big four banks have made over £41 billion in profits so far this year
London, 31 October 2023 – Demonstrators took to the streets of London this week to “trick or treat” Britain’s four biggest banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Bank and NatWest – as they announced a collective £41 billion in pre-tax profits for the first nine months of 2023.
Highlighting that the source of these boosted profits, which far outstripped those from last year, was rising interest rates, a small group used Halloween to claim that interest rates act as a “treat” for banks but a “trick” for borrowers.
In a series of videos, demonstrators can be seen entering bank branches and headquarters across London, “asking” them to “share the spoils” of what they describe as a “war on the poor.”
The groups behind these videos, Positive Money and The Equality Trust, claim that their intention was to use the scary season to raise awareness of the unequal impacts of interest rate rises, and to gain signatures for their petition; which calls for a windfall tax on bank profits, similar to the one on energy companies and has gained over 7,000 signatures so far. Positive Money estimates that this could raise at least £20 billion this year, and help to redress the inequality rate rises cause by redistributing the funds to the households that need them most.
Hannah Dewhirst, head of campaigns at Positive Money, said:
“When profits are up almost 400% on 2020, there can be no doubt that its interest rate rises making banks rich.
“This would be hard enough to swallow if rate hikes were actually tackling inflation, but they simply can’t address the international price of fossil fuels or the cost crop shortages are having across the globe.
“Now that rates are up, the Treasury must finally shoulder some responsibility and implement a windfall tax on the profits banks have made from high rates, then use that money to support the families driven to destitution by those same high rates.”
Jo Wittams, Co-Executive Director at The Equality Trust also said:
“The soaring profits in our banks show the weak and deeply unequal foundations our economy is built on. And while banks are profiteering off this crisis right now, the structures that allow wealth to accrue to the very richest few are decades in the making.
We need a tax on windfall profits to claw back this cash and structural reform that starts tackling our growing wealth inequality.”
By far the greatest “victor” amongst the banks was HSBC, which announced its pre-tax profits for the first three-quarters of 2023 had reached £24.3 billion, a 145% increase on last year and almost 300% up on 2020.
The runner-up was Barclays, reporting pre-tax profits of £1.9 billion for the third-quarter of 2023, which took its profits for the year so far to a total of £6.4 billion: 13% higher than last year and 167% higher than 2020.
Lloyds Bank took third place, declaring pre-tax profits of £1.9 billion for Q3. This translates to £5.7 billion for the year-to-date, an increase of 54% on last year and 1220% on 2020 figures.
NatWest may have registered the small Q3 profits of the big four at £1.3 billion, but it saw the biggest improvement to its performance, with £4.9 billion it made so far this year surpassing its 2020 equivalent by 1286%.
Collectively, the big four banks made over £41 billion in the first nine months of this year: 384% higher than the £8.5 billion that they made over the same period in 2020, and 79% higher than the £23 billion they made last year.
These videos are the latest addition to the campaign to #TaxTheBanks which has also included actions outside the Bank of England in August and September, alongside the publication of a YouGov poll which revealed a majority of UK adults (58%) are in support on a windfall tax on bank profits.
Positive Money campaigns for a money and banking system which supports a fair, democratic and sustainable economy.
The Equality Trust works to improve the quality of life in the UK by dismantling structural inequalities.