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UK banks closed 140,000 business accounts last year

UK banks closed 140,000 business accounts last year

New de-banking figures show more than 140,000 business accounts were closed by major UK banks last year.

The data emerged from a Treasury Committee inquiry into whether SMEs have adequate access to financing.

The figures are based on information from Barclays, HSBC, TSB, Lloyds, Santander, NatWest, Metro and Handelsbanken.

Reasons given for the de-banking of businesses include risk appetite, financial crime concerns, lack of information-sharing and other reasons.

Chair of the Treasury Committee, Harriett Baldwin, says: “One of the most startling pieces of evidence emerging from our inquiry into Access to Finance for small and medium-sized business is the readiness of lenders to close business bank accounts with little or no notice."

The categorisation of reasons for account closures varies between lenders. For example, Barclays broke their account closures down into six categories whereas TSB split their figures between two reasons - citing only financial crime and "where a business has been unable to satisfy verification requirements or has not responded to our attempts to contact them".

Only three banks listed ‘risk appetite’ as a reason for bank closures, with 4,214 cases listed.

Says Baldwin: "We can see from these figures that thousands of small businesses fall foul of their bank’s risk appetite definition, leaving them without access to a bank account. I hope publishing this data can aid scrutiny of the decisions taken by banks and help to ensure legitimate businesses are not being unfairly treated.”

Comments: (2)

Melvin Haskins
Melvin Haskins - Haston International Limited - 28 February, 2024, 12:021 like 1 like

Having banked with HSBC for 16 years they closed our account during lockdown because it was not being used - we were unable to trade during lockdown. We were given no reason and choice, despite the company having £7000 in the account. My wife and I will never do business with HSBC ever again, and we tell everyone we know of their actions.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 29 February, 2024, 10:32Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

OMG. Aren't there rules laid out by regulators in UK for banks to flag unused bank accounts as dormant and give an opportunity for accountholders to reactivate them? Closing down accounts just because they're not used seems ridiculous.