Fewer firms opening bank accounts

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BUSINESSES opened fewer accounts with Scotland’s four clearing banks during the second quarter of this year, indicating a fall-off in the number of start-ups.

Figures from the Committee of Scottish Bankers (CSCB) yesterday showed that 3,143 accounts were opened between April and June, down 14.7 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

The fall was most pronounced in the banks’ “real estate, renting and other business” category – the largest sub-group – with 792 accounts opened in the second quarter. That compared to 1,036 during the same period a year earlier.

Other sectors with notable declines include manufacturing, down from 201 to 162, and construction, down from 354 to 316. The number of hotels and restaurants opening new banking accounts tumbled from 369 to 292.

The number of sole traders was down sharply and partnerships also declined, but the number of companies opening accounts edged higher, from 1,908 to 1,935.

Aberdeenshire was the only region to record an increase in activity. The biggest falls were in the west of Scotland, down from 1,338 to 1,065, and the Highlands and Islands, down from 430 to 341.

The figures are used as a measure of new business start-up activity, but include things such as existing firms that have switched bank. In addition, they are based on Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland branches, and thus don’t capture business account activity by newer entrants such as Santander and HSBC.