Banks gather in Belfast to support Northern Ireland’s small businesses
Small businesses from Belfast gather today (Thursday) to talk directly to the Northern Ireland’s high street banks and hear from the Minister of Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson MP MLA, about the best ways to boost Northern Ireland’s economy.
The free half-day roadshow, hosted by the Better Business Finance campaign, highlights new measures from the banks intended to improve SME customer relationships, ensure better access to finance and to promote understanding by providing better information. These include a new appeals process through which. Northern Ireland businesses that are unsuccessful in securing lending, can ask for their borrowing applications to be looked at again.
The banks’ appeals processes will be monitored by a team of independent external reviewers to ensure that the they are fair, prompt and transparent. An annual report on the effectiveness of the appeals process will also be published.
Better Business Finance has been designed to provide SMEs with access to first class support to help them grow and thrive and draws on experience from the main commercial banks in Northern Ireland: Ulster Bank, Northern Bank, First Trust and Bank of Ireland, Barclays, HSBC, , and Santander.
Belfast-based mentoring organisations are also being recruited for a nationwide scheme that launched this summer, allowing SMEs to locate mentors in Northern Ireland who can offer support to their business. So far over 50 leading mentoring organisations have joined the scheme, including Mallusk Enterprise Park Limited who serve the area.
Belfast is the eleventh leg of the Better Business Finance roadshow, which has so far been attended by over 1000 businesses across the UK. The Belfast event, with more than 260 delegates, is the largest to date.
Angela Knight, Chief Executive, British Bankers’ Association said:
“We understand how important it is for business owners to be able to discuss their needs and the issues affecting them. That’s why we have set up the event in Belfast. As well as presenations from senior figures we are also launching a new appeals process giving Northern Ireland businesses the chance to have their lending applications looked at again. We are also looking to recruit both businesses and mentoring organisations for a nationwide scheme that we launched this summer to further support business owners on the ground.”
Ann McGregor,CEO, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the event:
“This event provides a fantastic opportunity for businesses in Northern Ireland to discuss with the banks directly the key issues affecting them. It also provides our members with an opportunity to find out exactly what support and help is on offer. With so many options available the roadshow presents an a opportune moment to establish exactly what the best options are for a local business.”
The event will be chaired by Francis Martin, President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Sammy Wilson MP MLA, Minister of Finance and Personnel, Northern Ireland, and Ronnie Patton, President of ACCA in Ireland and Senior Lecturer at Ulster Business School, alongside Angela Knight.
Notes to editors
About Better Business Finance
Better Business Finance provides impartial information and support to business customers looking to raise finance. More information can be found at http://www.betterbusinessfinance.co.uk