By Claire West

Businesses are being subjected to bank charge rises that could seriously hinder their future growth prospectsb, specialist recruitment consultancy IntaPeople has said.

Earlier this month, IntaPeople surveyed 300 senior finance professionals to gauge the level of support they are receiving from their bank.

A worrying 41% of respondents revealed that their business had seen bank charges increase in the past 6 months.

13% of participants said their charges had increased ‘significantly’, whilst 28% said they had risen ‘slightly’.

In addition to this, 35% of businesses have seen their access to finance fall over the same period of time.

Stephen Riley, director at IntaPeople, commented:

“We are extremely disappointed to learn that firms are facing another barrier to growth in the form of increased bank charges.

“In the current economic climate, businesses need all the help they can get. Although some of these increases may seem inconsequential to banks, for small and medium-sized businesses it could ultimately determine whether or not they take on additional staff. With the reputation of banks already at an all-time low, the timing is staggering.”

Only 20% of those surveyed said they were either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ with the service provided by their bank.

In response, IntaPeople has called on the Government to do more to promote competition between the big five banks, so that businesses are less likely to be held to ransom by their current suppliers.

“Very few organisations would risk losing loyal customers by increasing their charges at such a time,” Mr Riley said.

“It shows the banks are fully aware of the limited alternatives currently available to businesses in the UK — something the Government needs to rectify quickly if companies are to thrive in the future.”

“Vince Cable has often spoken out about resolving the ‘anti-business’ culture of banks. However, actions speak louder than words, and these latest findings show that little has changed in that regard.”