The taxpayer will wholly or partly own five banks and building societies as Britain enters a general election campaign next year.

Alistair Darling has virtually ruled out selling off any of the Government’s stakes in the institutions taken over or bailed out since the onset of the credit crunch.

The Chancellor is likely to concede this week for the first time that the Government may not recover all the costs of its rescue of Northern Rock, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bradford & Bingley and the Dunfermline.

The Times