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Small firms appeal to banks

The Federation of Small Businesses has published its review of business banking. After surveying more than 4,000 FSB members nationwide, it found that around 70 per cent were satisfied with their bank but when the service went wrong, it went badly wrong.

Switching accounts, overcharging and poor customer services were the main areas in which small businesses are not satisfied. A major cause was the lack of understanding of small businesses by bank staff, the survey found.

The FSB was also concerned that the banks were not fulfilling their commitment to the Competition Commission to offer free banking or pay at least 2.5 per cent interest on business current accounts.

Allan Banks, spokesman for the FSB North Buckinghamshire branch, said: “Small businesses play a vital part in the economic well-being of Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire. Our survey shows that small businesses are generally satisfied with regular, routine services from their banks but when things go wrong, it can have a major impact on their business.

“That is why they value a single point of contact, in a branch or area office of their bank close to their place of work, which understands their business and can fix problems speedily and appropriately.

“We call on all the banks with a presence in Milton Keynes and North Buckinghamshire to train their staff in the needs of small business community and staff their branches to support this wealth-generating group.”

The FSB review also looked at progress made since the Cruickshank Review of 2000 and the recommendations of the Competition Commission Inquiry of 2002 following a referral of the banks to the Commission by the Office of Fair Trading.

Mr Banks said: “The Competition Commission found that the major banks were making £2 billion per year in profits from small business banking. We call on the banks to live up to their undertakings to the Competition Commission or, if they fail to do so, for the regulators to make them.”

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