File photo dated 27/01/12 of a general view of signage for the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh.  Taxpayer-backed RBS racked up another £450 million in charges as it counted the cost of its recent IT meltdown and PPI mis-selling scandal   PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday November 1, 2012. See PA story CITY RBS. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Banks lend more than £20m to firms

By Shaun Lowthorpe Business editor
Monday, December 3, 2012
5.43 PM

Businesses in and around Norfolk have received more than £20m in lending from NatWest and RBS, new figures have revealed.

With banks under pressure to lend to firms to help kickstart the economy, NatWest and RBS said that it had leant more than £51m across the region under the government’s Funding for Lending (FFL) scheme, while 3,900 UK SMEs have now, between them, secured £1bn in finance from the banks since August 1st.

In Suffolk firms received a total of £9.3m, while in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough the totals were just under £22m.

And in a league table produced by the banks to show differing demand across the country, Norwich sits 18th out of 107 towns and cities nationwide.

Peter Ibbetson, small business chairman at Royal Bank of Scotland, called on everyone to work together to stimulate growth in the UK economy and help businesses thrive all around the country.

He said: “The solution for the economic situation we’re in lies with everybody: it lies with the politicians, the media, the banks and the businesses to work together and there is one word at the heart of all this, and that’s confidence.

“We need confidence back in the high street and cheap finance is one way to build confidence.

“At NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland we’re saying to businesses now is the right time to invest and these are the cheapest rates I have seen in my banking career.”

Rob Bailey, managing director of NatWest Commercial Banking in the area, said that £1bn to SMEs across the UK was a “pleasing milestone”, but he wanted to see more in this area.

“We’re seeing demand differ significantly from town to town, and I’d urge any business looking for finance to get in touch and we can see if the FFL scheme can help you,” he said.

“We’re focused on helping our customers meet their ambitions, we’re putting our relationship managers through a unique external accreditation programme with bespoke training for dealing with different types of business and we’re all going out two or three times a year to work directly for an SME to get a feel for the challenges those businesses are facing right now.

“That shift in culture, along with cheaper finance, is key to us helping businesses think about growth.”

shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk