NATWEST is to spend £15m over the next five years offering classes and funds for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the bank said today, in RBS Group’s latest initiative to show it supports small firms.
The scheme consists of eight sites around the country where small companies will be offered classes and guidance over a course running for up to 18 months. Over the next five years NatWest expects to serve 6,400 firms, giving out grants totalling up to £1m per year.
The bank has run into criticism in the past over the way it treated some struggling business customers. And as the biggest lender to small firms, when it was squeezed in the financial crisis, much of the flow of credit to businesses was hit.
As the only majority-taxpayer owned bank remaining, RBS has also been under the most pressure to increase lending to SMEs.
“Those who go through our programmes have an 80 per cent survival rate which is way above average,” said Jim Duffy from Entrepreneurial Spark, which runs similar classes in Scotland.