In a speech in London on Saturday, Cameron said his party would take on the UK’s “vested interests” and branded the banks “the biggest vested interests in our country”.
He said: “We had the biggest bank bail-out in the world, we can’t just carry on as if nothing has happened. I can announce today that a Conservative government will introduce a new bank levy to pay back taxpayers for the support they gave and to protect them in the future.”
The Tories say there is a growing international consensus for the tax.
Shadow chief treasury secretary Philip Hammond told BBC1’s Andrew Marr’s show: “It has become clear that this is now going to happen – the US is going to introduce a banking levy, Sweden has already done so, the consensus is growing – and at some point you have to make a decision to take some leadership.”
But Chancellor Alistair Darling told the BBC that pressing ahead with a banking levy without international consensus would pose a “hell of a risk” to jobs in the sector, which he says employs one million people in the UK and is a huge revenue source.
Darling says the Tories position is “misguided and not thought out,” and argues that some banks may move overseas if the levy is introduced.
A British Bankers’ Association spokesman says: “UK banks have already made substantial changes to how they are structured and the amount of capital and cash they hold to help prevent any future problems. We are ready and willing to work for change. But we believe any further reforms need to be timely, considered and internationally co-ordinated so they do not restrict credit to individuals and businesses as recovery picks up speed.”