By Steve Pateman
Head of UK Corporate and Commercial Banking
“Now that the dust has settled in the aftermath of the Budget, we have a chance to assess what Chancellor George Osborne has delivered. It’s tempting to describe the latest offering as a “keep calm and carry on” budget as there weren’t any radical new measures, or anything that deviated markedly from what was begun last year. Deficit reduction remains the focus, while the Chancellor once again reiterated his determination to help the private sector drive the recovery.
So that leaves the UK economy aiming for a sustained recovery in line with expectations, and so far signals are mixed. That said, there are more reasons to be cheerful than pessimistic: manufacturing performance – which can deliver serious benefits to the economy in terms of exports and employment – is picking up, while the Purchasing Managers’ Index signs are better. On the flipside, unemployment remains a concern, with job creation in the private sector the only real way to tackle it. To that end, there were several things included in the Budget designed to stimulate growth: the re-introduction of enterprise zones across the country should, along with a reduction in corporation tax rates, benefit businesses of all sizes. A commitment to reducing red tape should also help.
So where do the banks come in? Well, principally in delivering on what we have promised, to create a stable lending environment allowing businesses to invest for the long term. There’s no doubt that businesses will only take proactive growth decisions if they have confidence in their long-term prospects. For that to be achieved, banks must not fall prey to short-term thinking, but look beyond that, making prudent judgments on the outlook for the business and not just its current condition.
And that commitment is reflected in the recent changes we have made to our organisational structure. It’s fair to say that in some quarters, Santander has been perceived as a retail bank first and a corporate lender second. So, by adding responsibility for Business Banking (those businesses with a turnover below £1 million) to my role as head of Corporate and Commercial Banking, and joining the board, we are signaling our commitment to UK businesses. The changes mean that their concerns will be represented at the highest level within the bank, demonstrating how serious Santander is about supporting businesses of all sizes across the UK.”
Steve Pateman, Head of UK Corporate and Commercial Banking Santander discussing relationship banking
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