By Claire West

The number of new business accounts being opened by The Co-operative Bank is up by over a fifth — evidence that a ‘flight to trust’ is well underway amongst British businesses when it comes to their banking.

According to data released today (1 October), the Bank opened 21 per cent more business banking accounts during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

And this hike looks set to continue into the second half of the year. Applications from potential new customers have increased further following a succession of issues that have beset some of the larger banks. During August, telephone applications were up 45 per cent against the same period in 2011.

Keith Alderson, Managing Director of Corporate and Business Banking at The Co-operative Bank, said: “This data provides further evidence of the fact we are seen as the compelling alternative to traditional providers in the market for business customers.

“Our approach of providing customers with great service and consistent support for their business - despite the prolonged period of economic uncertainty - has reinforced their trust in us.

“We plan to build on this by continuing to grow our presence in the market for businesses and SMEs where we believe we offer customers something different to the status quo.”

For business banking customers, The Co-operative Bank offers free banking for 18 months through its Business Direct Plus Account*. It also offers an account exclusively for members of the Federation of Small Business (FSB).

For companies with turnover of more than £1m per annum it provides a relationship manager via its nationwide network of Corporate Banking Centres, which have more than doubled from 10 to 22 since 2006 despite the financial crisis and subsequent downturn.