Help and support

Appeals process brings over £50 million in extra lending to small and medium-sized businesses

The Appeals Process, which gives small businesses the right to challenge a bank’s decision on finance, has now put at least £50 million back into SME lending. Nearly all small and medium-sized businesses in the UK now have the right to appeal when they are declined finance by a high street bank, as the thirteen lenders who do the vast majority of business lending in the UK now have the scheme up and rolling.

According to the latest quarterly report from the Independent External Reviewer of the Appeals Process, Professor Russel Griggs, the figure could actually be much higher as this number is only based on his team’s sample of appeals decisions.

Professor Griggs also notes that for the quarter (Oct – Dec 2014):

  • The number of appeals increased by nearly 20% on the same period in 2013. A total of almost 12,000 businesses have now used the process since it began in 2011. Professor Griggs believes the increase is partly due to increased awareness raising from the banks and additional products being included in the process (e.g. overdrafts and credit cards).
  • The number of declines has reduced over time – largely due to the banks having upgraded systems which allow for better, more transparent decisions and also better conversations between relationship managers and businesses so they fully understand what they have to do to have an application accepted.

The independent scheme allows businesses with a turnover of up to £25 million to challenge their bank’s finance decision.

Commenting on the report, Professor Griggs said:

“I’m delighted that so many businesses now have the right to challenge a bank’s decision. Since we launched the process back in 2011, more and more businesses have made an appeal and millions of pounds in lending has been unlocked as a result.

“The banks have made real progress in how they deal with an application and much better conversations are taking place between relationship managers and businesses. Many applications that would have been declined in the past no longer reach that stage as a result.

“What’s more there is now a greater awareness of the right to appeal and I look forward to conversations with the banks around how we can make sure even more businesses know how to take advantage of this independent process.”

A failed credit score continues to be the most common reason behind failed finance applications, accounting for more than a third of cases (34%). Credit history has been a particular area of focus for the banks, which have jointly-produced a simple guide for their customers, which can be found on the Better Business Finance website: betterbusinessfinance.co.uk/images/fact_sheets/Credit_Scoring_Guide.pdf

ENDS

Notes to Editors

* The following banks are currently part of the Appeals Process: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, RBS, NatWest, Santander, TSB, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank, First Trust Bank and Clydesdale Bank (including its Yorkshire Bank).

  1. The Appeals Process by the major UK banks was established in April 2011 on the basis of high-level Principles of transparency, accessibility, fairness and promptness. Each bank has its own process to handle these appeals but Britain’s largest banks have developed a set of commonly agreed principles. These principles ensure that, across these institutions, all appeals are handled fairly, promptly and transparently. These high-level principles are aimed at providing consistency of approach across all the banks; and each bank has had to put in place an Appeals Process that satisfies those. In simple terms any business with a group turnover of up to £25 million or less, including potential start-ups can appeal to their bank if they are turned down for credit. They can appeal for any reason. It applies to all types of lending products that a bank can offer them, and now includes the lending conditions of the offer as well, which all the banks agreed to add during the first year.
  2. Banks’ adherence to the Appeals Process is monitored and scrutinised by an Independent External Reviewer, Professor Russel Griggs OBE. He reports on a quarterly and annual basis on the overall effectiveness of the banks’ Appeals Process and is supported by an independent team of auditors who, along with himself, conduct on-site and off-site monitoring of the banks’ Appeal Process throughout the year, as determined by Professor Griggs.
  3. Further details of the Better Business Finance programme, of which the Appeals Process is part can be found at: www.betterbusinessfinance.co.uk
  4. Professor Russel Griggs OBE took on the role of Independent External Reviewer to the Appeals Process at its inception in early 2011. He has a long history of working in and with SMEs, as well as with other large private and public sector organisations. From 2007 until 2010 he was Chair of the CBI’s National SME Council where he was one of the leading figures who worked with banks and Government through the financial crisis of 2008 in terms of SME lending. He is also a Non Executive Director to both the Northern Ireland and Scottish Governments and to the latter is also their independent advisor on Better Regulation.