Bank lending target agreed

BRITAIN’S banks are to pledge over £1bn in funding for small businesses, as months of negotiations with the government draw to a close.

The agreement comes as part of the “Project Merlin” talks between Westminster and the City over industry-wide lending commitments and pay transparency.

UK banks are understood to have agreed to offer £1.3bn over three years to small businesses, particularly in parts of the country worst hit by the spending cuts.

They will now make around £190bn of gross corporate lending available next year, an increase from around £175bn this year.

State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland has set up a £100m fund to support business franchises ahead of the move.

The lender hopes 1,800 franchises creating 24,000 jobs could be set up as a result.

Chancellor George Osborne is also said to have reached an agreement with the banks over pay transparency.

Under the new regime, Britain’s biggest banks will be forced to reveal the remuneration packages of as many as eight of their highest earning employees below board level.

Staff below board level will not be identified by name, according to Sky News.