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The SME Finance Charter

Our commitment to you and the future of your business

The SME Finance Charter is a voluntary commitment by financial providers to small and medium-sized businesses in the UK.

Overseen by the Business Finance Council, a collaboration between finance providers, business organisations and the government, the charter’s five principles reflect the areas identified as being significant in making sure the SME finance market works effectively. This framework will help you assess what the charter means for you as a business in practical terms.

Here’s our commitment to the charter’s five principles.

We’re open for business and ready to lend

From our range of lending products to our partnerships with specialist organisations like Propel and MarketFinance, we’re here to support you whatever your borrowing needs.

We offer pre-assessed lending limits to our SME customers1 – available in the Barclays app2, Online Banking and through our Business Relationship team – giving the confidence that extra funds are available when they’re needed.

We’ll help you build back better after COVID-19

Our business customers have experienced unprecedented challenges over the last two years, so we’ve launched the Barclays Business Health Pledge to support their journey from recovery to growth in 2022. As part of this pledge, we’re launching a new National SME Masterclass Series, featuring 50 sessions each month for businesses in the UK. These regional events will be led by our local Business Banking teams and will focus on financial management, government assistance, workplace wellness, cybersecurity and growth planning. We know early conversations are key, so we’ve committed to engaging with 20,000 customers a month, to support them with business resilience and growth throughout 2022.

We’re also launching our Business Health Hub – a range of online resources to help businesses equip themselves with the right digital tools. This hub will include our comprehensive post-lockdown resilience guide, and a new business health checklist to make sure you have all the information you need to help your business thrive.

It’s important to us that we support our customers when their businesses face financial distress, and our business support teams are specially trained to help those in difficulty. We have an average success rate of 80% at getting businesses back to good health, and we’re committed to increasing the size of these teams to keep building on this strong track record.

We’ll continue to offer our market-leading Barclays Scale Up UK Programme, which addresses the core challenges businesses, founders and their senior management teams face in scaling, and includes six months’ access to Cambridge Judge Business School faculty. We’re also supporting the government’s Help to Grow scheme, which is designed to provide management training for UK SMEs to help boost productivity.

Barclays Eagle Labs are supporting and connecting ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK through a network of business incubators, expertise and support. We’ve created a community of top innovators, industry experts and mentors designed to support ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to scale. We’ve also partnered with specialists to design programmes that will help founders accelerate their growth, with themes including fundraising, international connectivity and founder diversity

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

We have a variety of funding options and more than 80 products and services available to help your business grow. From pre-assessed lending limits to asset finance and invoice finance, we offer a range of comprehensive borrowing options for different business needs1.

As a responsible lender, we have to consider our customers’ best interests, which includes checking whether a business can afford to take on debt. If we decline your borrowing application, we’ll always provide clear reasons why. We may also offer you a referral to a business finance platform of alternative providers, so you can try to find a lender more suited to your needs. If you’re not satisfied with our explanation of why we declined your application, or you’d like to give us more information, you can also appeal. 

We'll treat you fairly at all times

Barclays UK is a signatory on the Standards of Lending Practice for Business Customers voluntary code. This sets high standards for good lending practice and sets out principles for treating customers in the right way.

If you find yourself in financial difficulty, our specialist teams are available to support you and help you get back to good financial health. In 2021, we launched our Specialist Relationship Support team, which supports front-line colleagues in helping vulnerable customers with complex needs.

We give support and guidance on wider issues through our communications, events and webinars, including sessions focused specifically on debt management. Our website also has a range of resources that can help you with managing your money and finding extra support if you’re in financial difficulty.

Please let us know if you’re unhappy with any aspect of our service. If we can’t resolve a complaint to your satisfaction, you may be able to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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

We work closely with the British Business Bank on a number of support schemes, including the government’s COVID-19 lending schemes. Through this relationship, we’ve facilitated a total of £29.5 billion3 into the economy through government-backed lending schemes, and we continue to support the Bounce Back Loan Pay as You Grow Scheme, giving customers flexibility to manage their repayments.

We also support and signpost customers to the British Business Bank’s dedicated Finance Hub and British Finance Guide.