If the British government wants to keep receiving substantial tax revenue from UK-based lenders, the nation needs free access to the single market, a lobby group has said ahead of Britain's divorce talks with the EU.
A report commissioned by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) said Wednesday lenders based in the UK helped pay or collect about 34.2 billion pounds ($42 billion, 38.2 billion euros) in tax for the government in the fiscal year ending in March.
The banks' main lobby group noted the figure included 17.8 billion pounds in employment taxes, 3.4 billion pounds to cover the bank levy introduced in response to the global financial crisis and paying 3.2 billion pounds in corporate tax.
BBA officials said the report highlighted the importance of the sector as the government prepared for Brexit talks with the EU when it would have to prioritize which sectors to seek the best possible terms of trade for.
The BBA emphasized free access to the EU's single market would remain a necessity for tax contributions to be maintained at the current level.
Some large lenders using London to run their EU operations have said they could start moving staff as early as 2017, if there is no clarity on whether Britain will retain access to the single market.
"It's more important than ever that the UK remains a competitive place to do business for both domestic and foreign banks," BBA CEO Anthony Browne said in a statement. "This matters, because banking is the UK's leading export industry, employs over half a million people right across the country, two-thirds of which are based outside London."
There has been growing speculation that banks based in Britain will lose their rights to sell services freely across the EU after the country's vote to leave the 28-member bloc.
hg/jd (dpa, Reuters)