SME customer charter to shore up credit lines

Do you own a small business? Having problems raising finance? NatWest and RBS are here to help! And all through the launch of a new "SME customer charter".

The banks say they're aiming to boost support for their 1.2 million business banking customers with the charter, which promises to lower overdraft rates, make fees more transparent and extend free banking so more start-ups have a chance to establish themselves.

"Access to finance at fair prices sits at the top of many businesses' wish list, which is why we are extending our overdraft price promise and offering reassurance and transparency on the fees we charge," says small business chairman Peter Ibbetson. "At the same time it's equally important we do all we can to help develop new businesses by extending our free banking offer."

Ibbetson's figures show NatWest and RBS have lent £60 billion to small and medium-sized firms over the last two years, as well as "leading the way" on lending via the government's Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme.

The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the charter, pointing out that "businesses need to know that their credit lines are safe" - and how much they'll cost.