SMEs to get help resolving banking disputes

A new independent service to help larger SMEs resolve disputes with banks goes live today.

Lewis Shand Smith, a former convener of Shetland Islands Council, will chair the new complaints service. Picture: contributed.

The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) will use alternative dispute resolution techniques to settle unresolved complaints from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with seven major banks, including Bank of Scotland-owner Lloyds, NatWest, and Clydesdale-owner Virgin Money.

The service aims to give SMEs more confidence to take out loans and other business banking products knowing they have a route to independent resolution if something goes wrong.

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Aimed at SMEs with an annual turnover of up to £10 million, it has been two years in the making and has been set up on a voluntary basis with small business groups and banks working together. It says it offers an alternative to litigation, removing the cost and stress of going to court.

Each business using the service will have a “Customer Champion”, who will act as a guide to the service and how to use it.

The BBRS’ chair, Lewis Shand Smith who spent ten years as the UK’s chief ombudsman in energy, telecoms and property, said: “By working with us voluntarily to develop this independent service, the participating banks and SME business groups have made an important contribution to supporting economic recovery among small businesses. By restoring trust, it will give businesses the confidence to borrow, leading to an improved climate for investment.

“The creation of this unique service has involved a rigorous process and a great deal of hard work by the BBRS team, SME representatives, the participating banks, and our broader stakeholders. The end result is a service that will make a real difference to businesses with unresolved banking complaints.”

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