By Daniel Hunter

The Chancellor has today (Friday) announced that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will jointly conduct a new survey to show for the first time which bank offers the best service to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Britain.

The FSB and BCC will ask businesses right across the country to comprehensively rank Britain’s banks and other lenders. This independent and authoritative study will look at the quality of customer experience and products they provide to the nation’s small businesses. This is the first time such a survey has been conducted.

The FSB and BCC will engage with high street banks, challenger banks and alternative finance providers to ensure a full picture of service to the UK’s SMEs is created. The FSB and BCC will provide further detail of the survey in the coming weeks.

The survey comes as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sets out a new direction that will lead it to being a boost to the British economy instead of a burden, with an aim to become the number one bank for SMEs in Britain. RBS and other banks will be able to use the results to measure their progress towards becoming better banks for small businesses everywhere.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: "I welcome this new initiative from the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chambers of Commerce, which will provide the UK’s small businesses with a clear and credible way to judge how their bank compares to its competitors.

"I want Britain’s banks to do more to put Britain’s small businesses at the top of their priority list, and this new survey will provide the means by which we can see who’s up for the challenge and who isn’t."

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The FSB is delighted to be leading on one of the most comprehensive banking surveys of its kind in the UK for small and medium-sized businesses. Working in partnership with the BCC the aim of the research is to deliver a unique insight into the best products available for businesses, and to lead to more competition between the existing main high street banks, and other lenders to small firms.

"We have long said there needs to be more competition in the business banking market, and this will give a clear view of the best services on offer in the banking sector, improving the number of firms that choose to switch banks in the process. It will help firms not only get the best deal on their bank account, or know who to go to for a loan, but also where it may be best to go for export finance, and other services.

"We look forward to putting the detail together over the coming weeks to ensure this independent survey provides transparency on the products on offer to small firms."

John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Businesses across the country tell us that questions of transparency, trust and customer service still bedevil relationships between firms and the banking sector.

"Chambers of Commerce in all parts of the United Kingdom have worked tirelessly in recent years to assist small- and medium-sized companies in their quest to access finance. For that reason, the BCC is keen to shine a light both on good practice, and on those services where banks must try harder to support their business customers.

"We want to see established high street banks, new challenger banks, and other financial institutions competing with each other to offer best-in-class service to SMEs. Given the long-standing structural problems in business finance, we also want to see fast-growing UK companies served just as well as the usual suspects.

"With our partners at the FSB, we will design and deliver a robust, independent and clear survey that gives firms of all sizes better information when they take crucial decisions on banking and finance."

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