'˜Small firms who have been bullied by the banks could have affordable route to justice'

BOSSES of small firms who believe they have been bullied by the banks could have an affordable route to justice under plans supported by a group of MPs.

Kevin Hollinrake MP

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking (APPG) has announced that a research project will be carried out into the best way of establishing an independent resolution mechanism for complex financial disputes. The Centre for Policy Studies will produce policy recommendations into how this mechanism will be set up, how it will be funded, who will be able to access it and on what basis it will make decisions.

A spokesman said: “For many years, the APPG has led calls for an independent, transparent, expert system to resolve complex financial disputes that has full legal powers.

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“Thousands of businesses have been affected by scandals without any affordable means of justice. This is a crucial next step toward the formation of a system that solves this issue.”

Kevin Hollinrake MP, the co-chairman of the APPG, said: “We are pleased to have had such a positive response from Government regarding our proposals so far. We are also extremely grateful for the many MPs that have supported the APPG on this issue, through representing their constituents in debates to raising their concerns with the current dispute resolution system in Parliament.

“It is crucial that we find the right outcome for small businesses, and this research is the next big step towards finding a resolution.”

Robert Colvile, the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “One of Britain’s big problems is that we’re great at starting firms but less good at growing them. As our research at the Centre for Policy Studies has shown, much of this is about access to credit – but it’s also because many small firms are reluctant to borrow.

“We hope these proposals can not only give small companies an easier means of redress when they’ve been poorly treated, but encourage greater trust between firms and banks, and we’re excited to be working with the APPG to develop its ideas.”