Starling Bank, Virgin Money and TSB are to be the beneficiaries of a £29.6 million underspend by the UK's Incentives Switching Scheme, which offered sweeteners to SMEs to transfer their business to challenger banks.
The switching scheme was part of a package of measures agreed between the UK Government and the European Commission as a condition of the bail out of Royal Bank of Scotland during the financial criss.
Run by the Banking Competition Remedies Board, the scheme allocated £275 million to assist SME customers within the Williams & Glynn business to move to challenger banks. This included the £225 dowry for switching business current accounts (BCAs) and an additional £50 million incentive to move loan accounts.
ISS was designed to conclude when either 120,000 BCAs switched or when the dowry of £225m was spent. With the latter target having being met, the BCR has been left holding the loose change from a £29.6 million underspend on the loan dowry.
Having topped the performance charts in terms of converted switches, Starling, Virgin Money and TSB are to be rewarded for their efforts with a further award of £9.2 million, £8.9 million and £6 million respectively.
Brendan Peilow, executive director at BCR with responsibility for ISS, said: “I am very pleased to record the success of the Incentivised Switching Scheme as evidenced by the full utilisation of the BCA Dowry and the fact that that over 50% of all SMEs switching through CASS during the life of ISS have done so through this scheme. The size of SMEs switching and the increased dowry on offer meant that the scheme has distributed the full BCA dowry fund available. Over £250m has gone directly to SMEs as a result of the dowries paid and the sector will further benefit from the awards that have been announced today.”
The BCR has also confirmed the opening of a consultation on cash handouts for a new pool of funds following the return of grants already doled out to Ebury and Onfido, both of whom have scaled back their business banking ambitions in the wake of the pandemic. The total available amounts to £12.5 million, including £7.5 million from Ebury and £5 million from Onfido. Applications for the grants will open on 25 August.