Business Finance Taskforce
Supporting UK Business
Actions designed to help business thrive and grow
Actions designed to help business thrive and grow were published today in the report of the Business Finance Taskforce.
The Taskforce banks have committed to 17 actions in three broad areas: 1) improving customer relationships; 2) ensuring better access to finance; and 3) providing better information and promoting understanding.
John Varley, chief executive of Barclays and chairman of the Taskforce, said:
"As banks we have an obligation to help the UK economy return to growth. The private sector will play a key role in the recovery and it's our job to help viable firms to be successful.
"SMEs are particularly important as a source of job creation and growth.
"The Taskforce has agreed a range of measures to help businesses get the advice and support they need, provide wider access to finance and deliver better customer service.
"We look forward to working with the authorities and with business groups to take these initiatives forward."
BBA chief executive, Angela Knight, said:
"The Business Finance Taskforce demonstrates banks’ real commitment to helping their business customers. The proposals are substantial, wide-ranging and represent a real opportunity for the banks to provide finance, help and support both directly and through partnership with business organisations up and down the country. Our members appreciate they have a role to play in supporting the UK economy and are determined to play their full part in the nation’s economic recovery."
The actions are:
Improving customer relationships
- Support a network of business mentors by working with the business groups to deliver this free service to small businesses across the UK
- Improve service levels to micro enterprises (businesses with fewer than 10 employees and turnover or a balance sheet under €2m) by setting out in a new Lending Code the levels of service banks will provide and outlining additional sources of help and advice
- Publish lending principles which clearly set out the minimum standards medium-sized and larger businesses can expect when asking banks for loans and other services
- Establish transparent appeals processes for when loan applications are declined, with processes independently monitored by a senior independent reviewer, who will publish the results of their review, to ensure each bank has a fair and equitable appeals process
- Initiate a pre re-financing dialogue 12 months’ ahead of any term loan coming to an end, which will include a timely review of business and re-financing needs and an assessment of what needs to be in place ahead of loan expiry to maximise the prospect of successful re-financing.
Ensuring better access to finance
- Establish and invest in a new £1.5 billion Business Growth Fund (built over a number of years) to fill a crucial gap in the market and provide capital for viable businesses which want to invest and grow
- Support the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, seeking continued Government backing through to 2012, and accommodating any changes made by Government
- Help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets by raising customer awareness, training customer-facing staff and engaging more actively with business groups and customers
- Improve access to trade finance through targeted SME awareness-raising campaigns and exploring possible regulatory adjustments with the FSA. Seek to open with Government access to trade finance products for businesses that qualify for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme
- Signpost alternative sources of finance, giving customers helpful information and advice if a loan is declined and raising awareness about the financial solutions they should consider
- Help improve the supply of credit to the wider economy, working with the authorities to ensure that wholesale markets can support the necessary lending capacity as the economy recovers.
Providing better information and promote understanding
- Fund and publish a regular independent survey, commencing in early 2011, to a methodology agreed with Government and business groups, so there is an agreed and authoritative set of data on business finance demand and lending supply
- Enhance the cross-industry lending dataset by broadening the statistics on lending available for wider bands of business activity; on lending to deprived areas; and on national and regional data on the provision of bank support to business start-ups
- Hold regional outreach events throughout 2011 with business groups to enable business customers and business groups to meet with key staff from the banks to answer questions and explain what services are available
- Improve customer information including a review of literature and other materials, so customers can more easily understand what products will best meet their needs
- Host a dedicated website through the BBA to draw together and link useful sources of information to help customers access the most appropriate information. This will also connect mentoring networks
- Establish a Business Finance Round Table where senior representatives from the banks and business groups meet regularly to discuss and review trends, identify emerging areas of concern, ensure problems are addressed and facilitate the implementation of the Taskforce initiatives.
For further information, please contact:
BBA Press Office: 020 7216 8989
Out of hours: 020 7216 8888
Additional information about the Business Finance Taskforce can be found here: www.bba.org.uk/taskforce
Notes to Editors
- The Business Lending Taskforce was set up following publication of the government's green paper, 'Financing a private sector recovery' on 26 July 2010.
- The Taskforce is made up of the CEOs and senior representatives from: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, Standard Chartered and the British Bankers’ Association.
- The Taskforce is chaired by John Varley, chief executive of Barclays.