By Claire West

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has tonight welcomed the 17 commitments laid out by the Bank Taskforce in its bid to open up communication channels with the business community.

The FSB has worked closely with the Taskforce and is pleased that the banks are opening up the channels of communication in a bid to restore the trust between small businesses and the banks.

The commitment to publish a regular independent survey on the amount that is being loaned to small firms is a welcome move to enable a better picture of what is actually happening in the sector. This will help to end the confusion on lending levels and the conflicting reports that arise.

The FSB is committed to establishing a national mentoring scheme and is delighted that the banks have agreed to work with the FSB and the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SfEDI) to co-ordinate, promote and develop a free of charge network of small business mentors across the UK.

Communication channels will be further strengthened with the development of new lending principles and a new transparent appeals process for businesses who think they have been turned down unfairly, as well as the commitment to a review of a business’s finance 12 months before it is due to end and a regional out-reach programme.

Other welcome measures include:

· Continued support for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme

· Help to improve customer information and signposts to alternative sources of finance

· Help to improve the supply of credit to the wider economy

John Walker, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“It is welcome news that pressure from the FSB has finally paid off and the banks have listened. We said when the Taskforce was announced that it must have the needs of small businesses at its core if they are to rebuild trust, and these proposals will go a long way to doing that.

“Many of the measures announced will give businesses a better understanding about what they should expect when they approach banks as well as an independent right of appeal if they feel they have been treated unfairly. This will help to restore confidence and trust that has been lost for both those who can’t access finance as well as those who are wary of approaching the banks.”