Small business mentoring scheme launched

Small businesses look set to benefit from the launch of a mentoring scheme, launched by the UK’s leading high street banks.

HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander are all taking part in scheme, which is specifically designed to help small businesses with finance issues. The Business Finance Taskforce established the idea last summer in a bid to provide firms with more support on marketing and HR, as well as access to funding.

The news comes in response to widespread criticism of the banks, which have been accused of not lending enough to small and medium-sized (SME) businesses. A lack of financing could prove to be something of an issue when the coalition government has put the emphasis on a private sector-led economic recovery.

Indeed, the banks failed again to meet their lending targets under Project Merlin during the first quarter of 2011, managing to lend just £16.8 billion. They have pledged a minimum of £76 billion in lending to SMEs over the remainder of the year. But to achieve this they would need to have averaged £19 billion a quarter, so there will be some pressure on for the remaining months.