NatWest and StepChange launch independent debt advice for SMEs
NatWest, the biggest bank for UK business, has partnered with StepChange, the UK’s largest debt charity, to offer its SME customers an independent debt advice service which will launch later this month.
The bank has donated £2m to the charity to fund a dedicated team, which will have access to a range of options, designed to support business customers struggling with their finances, amidst the rising cost of living.
The new team will offer appointments to business customers who the bank feels would benefit from debt advice, where an advisor will explore the customer’s situation and agree next steps. These range from completing full debt advice, to referral to a specialist such as a tax accountant.
StepChange will then support the customer through the next stages of their journey, where appropriate, and help support the ongoing relationship between the bank and its customers.
Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest Group said: “Our priority is always to support customers who are facing financial difficulties in a sympathetic and collaborative way, and we have a skilled and experienced team who do that every day. However, we recognise that there are instances where customers would benefit from speaking with an independent advisor, particularly where debts are spread across multiple lenders.
We are proud to be partnering with StepChange to help fund this new team who will support our business customers who need that additional level of support. We will continue to monitor and anticipate the needs of all our customers to ensure we have the right measures in place.”
Phil Andrew, CEO, StepChange said: “We’re delighted to be working with NatWest to support their business customers with additional help from an impartial, expert debt advice perspective, when this is appropriate to their needs. By being referred to StepChange, NatWest’s customers will have access to a high quality, dedicated team whose sole focus will be on helping them, with their bank’s support.
“Debt is something that can affect absolutely anyone, and what’s important is having easy access to good services at a time of need. Through this service we aim to establish a realistic pathway for customers to address their problems and restore their personal financial health, and we look forward to working with them.”
The announcement is the latest addition to a support package from NatWest for its small business customers; in August it announced it was freezing its account tariffs and charges for business current account customers for a minimum of 12 months. In July it also announced a package of £1.25bn in lending support for the UK agriculture sector, alongside supportive measures such as capital repayment holidays and increased overdraft limits.