October 10th, 2019.

In a new SME Finance Charter published yesterday , Britain’s top banks and others reaffirmed their commitment to back British business through access to finance, helping SMEs plan for the future ahead of Brexit on 31 October and beyond.

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. 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.

The SME Finance Charter is made up of five overarching pledges that provide a framework for lenders to set out their own individual commitments to SMEs in the coming weeks. In order to become signatories to the Charter, each lender will need to demonstrate what specific actions they are taking to deliver on the pledges.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: "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."

The 5 pledges made by finance providers through the SME Finance Charter include:

confirming they are ‘open for business and ready to lend’ which includes specific funds they have set up for SME lending

helping SMEs to prepare for Brexit and beyond by setting out the resources that they can provide

providing clear and accessible information for SMEs seeking finance, including expectations around the management of accounts, cashflow projections and security, explaining options if initial applications are declined

treating all customers fairly, explaining how they will resolve any disputes that may occur

working with the government-owned British Business Bank to signpost their guidance and to help businesses secure a loan or overdraft even if they lack the security for the borrowing, giving SMEs the ability to invest and expand

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.

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