Professor Russell Griggs OBE, the Independent External Reviewer of the process said that ever bank involved had changed something about their lending process in order to benefit their business customers.
The process allows businesses with a turnover of less than £25m to challenge their bank if they don’t think they should have been rejected for finance or should have been offered better terms.
Professor Griggs’ report, published today, also reveals that the overall number of appeals rose to 3,518 this year, with almost a third of these resulting in overturned decisions.
Professor Griggs said: “My priorities for the coming year will be making sure that the conversation between lenders and SME customers continues to improve and that awareness of the Appeals Process increases.
“I aim to ensure all banks can tell their customers clearly and precisely why they were declined for lending and what they might be able to do to change that decision over time.”
He found that one of the key problems for many rejected businesses was credit scoring, with 43 per cent saying their application was declined due to this.
He said: “Good work has been done by the banks to educate business customers about how to improve their credit score and their chances of securing finance, but I have come to the conclusion that if we want a better relationship between lenders and SME customers then lenders need to know more specifically why their lending application failed.
“All lenders need to put their systems in a place where they can be open and honest on the reasons for failing a lending application.”
John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that the figures were encouraging but that more needs to be done.
He said: “Of course in an ideal world, viable businesses looking for finance should have their credit applications approved first time around, but it’s important for firms to know that when they get rejected there is an appeals process that can work for them.”
Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers Association, said: “Today’s report shows that the appeals process is working and that thousands of businesses have benefited. The process is really important as it allows businesses to ask their bank to look again at their finance application if they did not get the answer that they wanted first time.”
Businesses wishing to appeal a recent rejection for bank funding can do so through the Better Business Finance website.
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