All businesses need finance. This may come from the owner, from past profits made by the business or from outside – through a bank or another finance provider. If your business relies on outside finance, the SME Finance Charter is for you.

The aim of the Charter is to let you know:

  • how UK lenders in general plan to support their business customers
  • what this means for your business, if your lender has signed up to the Charter
  • how other lenders are responding, so that you can compare

The Charter is a voluntary agreement that covers:

  • loans and overdrafts
  • asset finance including HP (hire purchase) and leasing
  • stock lending
  • invoice finance

It has 5 overall pledges that have been signed off by the Business Finance Council, which is a collaboration between finance providers, business organisations and government.

We will publish here a list of the lenders which have signed up to the Charter, along with links to their offers.

The 5 pledges and what they mean in practice

We’re open for business and ready to lend

The Bank of England has said that the banking system is resilient and prepared for the wide range of risks it could face. Your lender will describe their offer to businesses, including the type of applications they are looking to support.

We’ll help you prepare for Brexit and beyond

The resources that your lender provides might include web resources, fact sheets, videos and workshops, together with face-to-face advice and signposting.

We’ll support your application and signpost other options if needed

Your lender will describe what they expect in an application, for example management accounts, cashflows and any security. They will also explain the options that would be open to you if your application was declined.

We’ll treat you fairly at all times

Your lender will explain their commitment to treating customers fairly and how they would resolve any disputes. They may have signed up to an independent scheme such as the Standards of Lending Practice for business customers or the Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending Standards Framework.

We’ll work with the government-owned British Business Bank (BBB) to support SMEs

The British Business Bank is dedicated to making finance markets work better for small and mid-sized businesses. Your lender will signpost to the BBB’s Finance Hub and Business Finance Guide, which offer information on finance options. Your lender may also describe which schemes it offers, for example the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which can help you secure a loan or overdraft even if your business lacks security.