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Govt urges advisers to reach out to clients with banking disputes

Govt urges advisers to reach out to clients with banking disputes

The small business minister has urged advisers to reach out to clients who could have unresolved banking complaints.

Paul Scully, alongside the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), has called on professional services firms, including advisers, to tackle outstanding banking problems.

The BBRS said there could be nearly 600,000 UK SMEs which have outstanding disputes and accountants, solicitors and financial advisers are likely to have had dealings with these businesses, including those which have since closed down, merged or been sold. 

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The BBRS is a non-profit dispute resolution service set up to resolve disputes between eligible SMEs and the seven participating banks.

It was established as part of a voluntary commitment following the Simon Walker Review on SME business banking complaints. 

The sector has been asked to reach out to these SMEs to see whether they have any disputes dating back to 2001.

Scully said: “It has been a testing year for so many of Britain’s small businesses, and we have undertaken unprecedented measures to keep alive the creativity, dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit which they bring to every sector of the economy and every community across the country. 

“Services like the BBRS will play a vital role in ensuring small business owners can access expert advice and have their voices heard, not only as we build back better from this pandemic but also well into the future.”

The BBRS’ Historical Scheme covers banking complaints first registered in the period from December 1, 2001 to March 31, 2019. 

Businesses may qualify for support if they had turnover between £1m and £6.5m per annum at the time of their complaint, and their case has not already been settled, been subject to an independent review, or gone to court. 

Businesses with turnover between £6.5m and £10m with unresolved banking complaints since April 2019 can apply to the BBRS’ Contemporary Scheme for support.

Glenn Collins, head of policy, technical and strategic engagement at ACCA, said: “We urge our members to reach out to their clients to see if they can receive support. The BBRS is a trusted resource that can help resolve disputes at minimal cost to SMEs. 

“Such support is important for the wellbeing of SMEs’ owners, as such disputes can be stressful. Importantly, the BBRS will be able to consider disputes in the wake of the pandemic, and our hope is that the BBRS alongside the seven participating banks will collaborate to shape a better resolution system for the future.”

Businesses using BBRS will be assigned a dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support. The BBRS is also able to make both financial and non-financial awards when a complaint is upheld. 

The process is overseen by chief adjudicator Alexandra Marks, a deputy High Court judge.

Marks said: “We want to encourage professional services firms and advisers to consider whether their current and previous clients could benefit from the BBRS’ service.