Bank branch closures cut lending to UK small businesses in half

Businesses in some areas have witnessed a 104% decrease in lending yet Barclays has said it plans to lend more than £5.4bn to small firms

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The closure of hundreds of UK bank branches over the last three years has cut the amount of lending to small businesses in some areas by 50%, according to research from Move Your Money.

Major banks including HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have been closing branches across the country to cut costs and focus on online and mobile banking services.

In some cases, lending to small businesses is down by as much as 63% and communities that have lost all their bank branches and have suffered a 104% drop in lending.

Politicians are expected to debate the issue in parliament and call for a tightening of legislation surrounding closures and that banks do more to help their customers.

On Friday 1 July, Barclays issued a statement that it would “continue its high levels of small and medium enterprise lending to UK businesses” and plans to actually beat its record of £5.4bn for small business lending.

Fionn Travers-Smith, campaign manager for Move Your Money, said:

“The UK’s biggest banks are abandoning communities across the country, and today for the first time we can see the incredible damage that is happening.”

Barclays business banking chief executive, Ian Rand, has commented:

“Strong banks should stand tall and help ensure the stability in our economy by continuing our commitment to lend. Small and medium-sized enterprises should know that even if their outlook is looking less clear, their bank is on their side and will support them through thick and thin.”

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