Website analyses whether SMEs get fair deal

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A new website has been launched which analyses how well the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses are being served by the banks.

Commissioned by Chancellor George Osborne, Business Banking Insight is designed to help businesses make better informed banking decisions.

The programme is supported by the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce, alongside an advisory group that includes HM Treasury, the British Bankers Association, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

BBI, announced by the Chancellor last November, showcases the experiences of more than 5,000 businesses and how they rate their banks, with a view to enhancing the trust and transparency between the two groups.

For exmple, sole traders gave banks an average current account satisfaction score of 60 per cent.

Mr Osborne, said: “I welcome the first set of results from the new Business Banking Insight survey, which I commissioned to provide Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses with a clear and credible way to judge how their bank compares to its competitors. A key part of our long term economic plan is increasing competition and choice in banking, and ensuring Britain’s SMEs get the best possible service from their bank. This new survey will be a powerful tool for these businesses, providing them with the means to see who’s up for the challenge and who isn’t.”

John Allan, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Nearly 60 per cent of the UK workforce is employed by a small to medium sized business and 99 per cent of firms employ fewer than 49 people. For the first time this website will give these economically vital firms what they need to be able to make better informed choices about the banks they choose and the products they offer.”

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “For many firms across the country, trust in the banking system has been severely damaged over recent years. Despite a wider improvement in economic conditions, some businesses continue to express dissatisfaction with the level of service provided by banks, and many of these firms find themselves feeling discouraged from applying for finance. The Business Banking Insight (BBI) is a vital tool for SMEs.”