Darling urges banks to lend

CHANCELLOR Alistair Darling will today put bank bosses in the dock over concerns that they are not lending enough.<br /><br />In a meeting at the Treasury, Darling will urge lenders to reward taxpayers for their support of the banking system by offering loans at more competitive rates.<br /><br />Speaking in a television interview, the chancellor said he was &ldquo;extremely concerned&rdquo; that rates being offered by major lenders were too high.<br /><br />His comments came in the light of a survey by finance website showing that average interest rates have risen over the past three months.<br /><br />But the British Bankers&rsquo; Association (BBA) maintains that lending to small firms rose by &pound;391m in June, picking up the pace from the &pound;287m increase seen in April. <br /><br />BBA chief executive Angela Knight told City A.M. that rates were high due to&nbsp; expensive inter-bank lending, the risk of loan defaults and government capital requirements.<br /><br />A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said there was &ldquo;no excuse&rdquo; for banks to charge more than three per cent above&nbsp; base rate and warned that lenders spooked by the threat of a double-dip recession could &ldquo;batten down the hatches&rdquo;.