New banking website ‘could save small businesses money’

A new government website aims to save small businesses money by comparing business bank accounts.

Business Banking Insight (BBI) displays results of six-monthly surveys of UK SMEs, each of which has been asked about their experiences of the banks they use. Business owners can then search the results of the survey, filtering by business size, to find the most recommended bank.

Banks are rated up to five stars on factors like transparency and value. The site currently rates 74 banks, based on responses from over 5,000 businesses. A further 10,000 businesses will be surveyed this autumn, and the Treasury hopes to survey 20,000 businesses a year from 2015 onwards.

According to the survey small businesses have particular difficulties achieving value for money, with firms with one to nine employees giving more than half the banks fewer than 3.5 stars out of five on this measure.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “A key part of our long-term economic plan is increasing competition and choice in banking, and ensuring Britain’s SMEs get the best possible service from their bank. This new survey will be a powerful tool for these businesses, providing them with the means to see who’s up for the challenge and who isn’t.”

Meanwhile the government appear to be pushing ahead with plans to force banks to refer unsuccessful business credit applicants to alternative finance providers. The plans, originally suggested by Vince Cable and outlined in the last Budget, drew criticism from the banks, which say that they would be difficult and expensive to implement.