RBS launches credit help hotline for small businesses

It could be good news from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for cash-strapped small businesses this week.

The owner of Natwest, now 70 per cent controlled by the nation's taxpayers, is feeling pressure from the Treasury to hit lending targets and is thus pulling out the stops to attract more small business banking customers, we hear.

And the first step? A new hotline - staffed by senior bankers with experience of previous recessions - to cater for small firms having problems getting their hands on credit at the moment.

You don't have to be an RBS customer to avail of the free service, which is described as being part of the bank's aim to be "transparent and innovative" in its support for UK firms.

Graham Galloway, managing director of the bank's Scottish business and commercial arms, said RBS is making "ambitious commitments" to respond to and handle all calls and emails "in clearly defined timescales with dedicated managers".

"Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes looking at a case can produce an alternative solution. We are currently approving 85 per cent of loan applications and we're always looking to improve," he added.

RBS chief Stephen Hester has apparently written to all MPs urging them to direct firms to the service, which runs from 8am-8pm on weekdays, on 0800 092 3087.