Government to consult sector on business banking

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The government is seeking further information from the convenience sector about difficulties they encounter when switching banks to securing finance.

The call comes after the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking on Tuesday [14 March] on the issues convenience retailers face when dealing with banks.

Edward Woodall, ACS head of policy and public affairs, spoke about the increasing costs of banking cash, low rates of account switching and barriers to accessing finance.

ACS research last November found that the overwhelming majority (85%) of retailers said they had no interest in switching banks.

Some 48% reported an increase in the cost of banking cash over the past three years and 47% said they had been subjected to increasing credit and debit card charge costs.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said more than 75% of retailers in the convenience sector funded investment from their own reserves, which suggested retailers were not keen to approach banks for funding.

When combined with the costs of banking cash increasing alongside charges for debit and credit card payments, it was clear that there were issues with the relationship that banks had with retailers.

“We want to see a business banking market that is competitive and promotes the best deals to customers, and will continue to work with the APPG on Fair Business Banking to look at what can be done to make this a reality,” said Lowman.

The APPG said its aim was to create a level playing field for businesses that it said was “perceived and championed in rhetoric, but does not exist in reality”.

It is understood to be preparing to launch a consultation within the next couple of months with a view to reaching a conclusion before the parliamentary recess this summer.

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