Financial institutions and individuals closely tied to the financial sector donated a total of £15.3 million to political parties and collectively spent £2.3 million directly on MPs from January 2020 to December 2021, according to a new report published today by research and campaign group Positive Money.
47 MPs received an average of £48,936 from the financial sector, 26 of whom registered zero hours of work in return. Of the MPs who recorded work in exchange for payments, the average hourly wage was £2,738 an hour – more than 10 times the average managing director wage of £256 an hour, 63 times the average financial sector worker wage of £43, and 180 times the UK average of £15.15. The findings come as financial sector pay reaches record highs – growing six times that of the average worker, according to new figures from the TUC published this week.
Positive Money’s report, ‘The Power of Big Finance,’ explores the means by which the financial sector exerts its influence on public policymaking and in particular, decisions over its own governance. The authors argue that access to public institutions isn’t just the exceptional case of a few bad apples bending the rules – such as David Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of his financial services employer Greensill Capital – but represents a far wider systemic problem.
In addition to donations, gifts and expense payments, big finance gains access to government officials and regulators through several other channels. These include: the maintenance of a constantly revolving door between public office and the private financial sector, ties to public officials through their second jobs and financial interests in the sector, and a disproportionate amount of meetings with the Treasury compared to other sectors.