British Business Bank pledges its commitment to smaller businesses through SME Finance Charter as a member of the Business Finance Council

Press release 10 October 2019

The British Business Bank has today reaffirmed its commitment to supporting smaller businesses seeking finance through the SME Finance Charter, published on 9 October.

The Charter was adopted at the first meeting of the new Business Finance Council, co-chaired by Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen on 9 October. The Council was attended by representatives from Britain’s leading banks, alternative lenders and representatives from the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, also attended the meeting.

The SME Finance Charter consists of five commitments that provide a framework for finance providers to set out their specific commitments to smaller businesses to help them as they plan for the future ahead of Brexit and beyond.

The five pledges state:

  1. We’re open for business and ready to lend.
  2. We’ll help you prepare for Brexit and beyond.
  3. We’ll support your application and signpost other options if needed.
  4. We’ll treat you fairly at all times.
  5. We’ll work with the government-owned British Business Bank to support SMEs.

These five areas were identified by the Council as significant to ensure that the SME finance market works effectively and coupled with the cross-sector backing for the Charter secured today, demonstrates the attention and support that the UK gives to its SMEs.

The British Business Bank’s mission is to help drive economic growth by making finance markets work better for smaller businesses – wherever they are in the UK and wherever they are on their business journey – enabling them to prosper and grow.

As part of the Charter, lenders will signpost to the Bank’s Finance Hub and Business Finance Guide, which offer information on finance options. Lenders may also describe which Bank supported programmes it offers, for example the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which facilitates business finance to smaller businesses that are viable but unable to obtain finance due to having insufficient security to meet their lender’s normal requirements.

I have met many businesses since my appointment as Business Secretary and access to finance is a common cause of concern. We want to see the banks and lenders back our small and medium sized businesses, and this commitment is the first step in giving them the confidence they need to invest and grow.” “Finance is available, and I would urge SMEs to talk to their providers and get the advice they need to scale up on a truly global stage ahead of us leaving the EU and into the future. Andrea Leadsom Business Secretary
As a former small business owner, I understand the challenges involved in securing finance. The banks have said that they are open for business and ready to lend, with today’s Charter underlining that commitment, something that should be a great encouragement to our fantastic British SMEs. Kelly Tolhurst Small Business Minister
I want to see our small and medium-sized businesses seize the opportunities of Brexit – expanding, creating jobs and boosting our economy.” “Today’s Charter shows that lenders are backing businesses and stand ready to provide advice, guidance and financial support to help them prosper. I will continue to work closely with lenders and business representatives to ensure our SMEs have everything they need as we get ready to leave the EU. John Glen The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Charter’s high-level commitments have been signed off by the Business Finance Council, a collaboration between finance providers, business organisations and government. The Council will continue work to identify and address any barriers faced by small and mid-sized businesses on an ongoing basis, with a focus on securing finance and getting ready for Brexit on 31 October.

Notes to editors

The Council membership is made up of major lenders and alternative finance providers, as well as ministers, UK Finance and the Finance and Leasing Association, the British Business Bank and business representative organisations.

The members of the Business Finance Council are:

  • Kelly Tolhurst MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, BEIS
  • British Business Bank
  • UK Finance
  • Barclays
  • Bibby Financial Services
  • CYBG
  • Funding Circle
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander UK
  • British Chambers of Commerce
  • The Federation of Small Businesses
  • Finance and Leasing Association
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales