Mandelson announces initiative to track high-street banks' provision of business finance

A new panel is to be created monitoring how banks are lending to small businesses.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson made the announcement yesterday, after five major high-street banks reached an agreement with the government to provide data on the availability, risk and overall cost of lending to small and medium-sized businesses.

Peter Mandelson
Mandelson: “this will give us greater insight into the situation at ground level”

The discussions took place in the first meeting of the Small Business Finance Forum.

Detailed talks will now be held with each of the banks to reach individual agreements on the provision of data to the panel.

The monitoring panel will be made up of senior officials from the Department for Business and Treasury, as well as representatives from the Bank of England.

The forum also secured an agreement from the British Bankers' Association to work with small business organisations on a fundamental revision of the statement of principles that set out how banks and businesses work together.

Mandelson said: “It is critical we understand what finance is available for small businesses and this monitoring panel will give us greater insight into the situation at ground level.”

He added: “I want this forum to make a difference. We have opened up a dialogue between SMEs and banks, and we will continue to work together to make sure we have the resources in place to see UK plc through this difficult economic climate.”