Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Top banks to reveal lending data

Danny Alexander has backed a project which will see Britain's major banks publish lending data across 10,000 postcodes by the end of the year

Britain's major banks are to publish lending data across 10,000 postcodes by the end of the year as part of efforts to boost credit to homeowners and small businesses.

In the most detailed regional breakdown yet of lending in the UK, seven of the biggest banks have agreed with the Government to provide the data showing a lender-by-lender account of borrowing across the country.

It will be published on a quarterly basis by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and the Council of Mortgage Lenders and cover lending to small businesses, mortgage borrowing and unsecured personal loans, excluding credit cards.

Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, announced the move following Monday's first-ever postcode breakdown of small business lending by the BBA.

The BBA published lending data across 120 postcodes for 2012, which showed small firms across nearly all regions of Britain saved more than they borrowed last year. Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in around three-quarters of the 120 postcode areas had higher net deposits than loans at the end of 2012.

The figures also revealed only 22 of the postcode areas saw borrowing increase last year as small companies repaid more debt than they borrowed across most regions, leaving total lending stock lower last year than in 2011.

The Government welcomed the BBA figures but said it was "committed to securing even more transparency", claiming the more detailed analysis would help identify where action is needed to boost access to finance.

By highlighting areas where larger banks are often not willing to lend, the data will allow local and regional lenders such as Community Development Finance Institutions to move into these areas and offer finance, according to the Government.

Mr Alexander said: "From next year, businesses will be able to see exactly where the major banks are lending - up to within a few streets of their premises. It is a major step forward in terms of transparency and should encourage competition by helping smaller lenders to identify gaps in the market and allowing businesses to hold their local bank to account where they aren't lending."

The seven major banking groups that have signed up to provide the figures so far are: Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Barclays, Santander UK, Nationwide and Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, which are owned by National Australia Bank.

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