Part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group today pledged to offer support to 300,000 new start-up businesses over the next three years.
Lloyds — 43% owned by the taxpayers — said its plans would help ‘viable' businesses gain access to credit as the UK recovers from recession and give “clearer and fairer” prices under a small business charter.
The bank has announced plans to raise £21bn to avoid a taxpayer-backed insurance scheme which would have seen the public stake rise to 62%. Lloyds said in March it would lend an extra £11bn a year to businesses in return for taxpayer aid.
Under the charter the bank said it would run a programme of 200 seminars to advise small firms, meet ‘reasonable' requests for finance and help viable businesses.
The bank will not change the terms of overdrafts as long as firms keep within agreed limits and will only charge higher margins “where there has been a material increase in risk”. The bank's commercial managing director John Maltby said optimism among businesses was the “foundation” of any economic upturn. “We hope to give businesses across the country the confidence they need to grow and lead the UK out of recession,” he added.
Russel Griggs, chairman of the CBI business group's small business council, said the charter was a “welcome step”.
“Anything that increases that transparency and understanding is welcome because small and medium-sized enterprises can then work more closely with banks to change or further enhance their business and address any concerns.”,” he said.