How does the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking Work?
A Key Driver for Change
The APPG on Fair Business Banking is a key driver for change and a forum for consultation that incorporates all stakeholders who share the objective of levelling the playing field between businesses and lenders. To achieve this objective, it is essential we listen to all voices and give equal weight to all representations made to us.
We have cross-party support for the work that we do, and we ensure that members from each political party have equal opportunities to contribute to the discussion and guide the objectives of the Group.
We engage equally with all stakeholders who have an interest in the strength and resilience of SMEs and the financial sector more generally. This includes financial organisations and campaign groups alike and this sometimes means we have to engage positively with organisations that are at odds with each other.
We are in the position, however, to bring these voices together to work towards implementing constructive reforms to the commercial lending market. The quality and rigour of our work and output speaks for our independence and ability to bring all sides together. By engaging openly with all the stakeholders outlined below, the APPG can take the lead in restoring trust in business banking and give SMEs the confidence to take risks and thrive for the benefit of UK plc.
What is the APPG doing to achieve their objectives?
The APPG is a key driver for change and a forum for consultation that works in the long-term interest of SMEs, the financial services industry and, ultimately, for all local economies.
The APPG acts as a forum and focal point for the SME community and financial services industry and to deliver reforms in their long-term interest. As part of this, the APPG appeals to the full cross-section of banks from Tier One to challengers.
Bringing All Parties Together
The APPG is bringing together senior and influential figures and organisations in finance, commercial banking, policy and business in order to understand the key challenges in financing businesses for sustainable growth.
The APPG is working, though active consultation with stakeholders, to enable these reforms. Some of these measures require action from the government and new legislation. We urge all parties to call on the government to take these necessary steps. We believe these reforms will be in the long-term interest of everyone – SMEs and financial services providers. Ultimately, it is in the interest of local communities and the UK economy.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Who do you engage with?
The APPG engages equally with all stakeholders to achieve our core objectives. Crucially, we engage closely with the campaign groups that represent SMEs as the groups objectives and guided by the problems faced by SMEs.
We also engage closely with the Government and other Parliamentarians by organising meetings and debates to build support for our reforms.
We also engage actively with the industry and the regulators so that we can use our position of influence to promote positive and constructive change for the benefit of consumers and the industry alike.
2. What are your current workstreams?
The APPG recognises the current situation where many SMEs do not have access to justice when they are the victims of mistreatment. We are pressing the regulator and the financial sector to address our calls for reforms to the current system of dispute resolution.
Often, businesses are not given the information they require to make informed decisions and have no option but to agree to obtuse and one-sided contractual terms involving onerous covenants to access the funding the require. We have therefore established the Contracts Working Group that places the major banks in the same room as representatives of SMEs to create an equal contracts environment.
On occasion, insolvency can be brought about be poor behaviour on the part of the main lender and there is no mechanism in insolvency law in place to deal with this situation, leaving businesses at risk of asset stripping. We are therefore coordinating with BEIS, the insolvency service, industry and key ministers to address issues in insolvency.
3. What are your future workstreams?
Access to Finance for Sustainable Growth
We are bringing together senior and influential figures and organisations in alternative finance, commercial banking, policy and business in order to understand the key challenges in financing businesses for sustainable growth. The aim of this workstream is to create a working group to identify achievable objectives with the aim of establishing what the future stable capital formation structure for UK SMEs could be.
Whistleblowers UK and Public Concern at Work
In addition to this future workstream we are working with Whistleblowers UK and Public Concern at Work to propose an Office for the Whistleblower. This has been taken up by BEIS for further evaluation. It is crucial that the right structures are in place to allow whistleblowers to have a voice and raise concerns. We are also working with the newly formed APPG on Whistleblowing on these issues and we will support them where necessary in the future.
Investigation of Financial Crime
We are also looking closely at the investigation of financial crime. We are concerned that we are not aware of any extensive interviews with the alleged victims of financial fraud. Until such time as we see clear evidence of a thorough investigation, we will continue to publicly press for both individuals and institutions to be investigated, and individual forces to investigate allegations.
4. Do donations or funding influence the work of the groups?
No – the group receives no taxpayer funding for its work, which means we must rely on external funding to meet the costs required to run a professional and effective group. Funds are required for research, administration, event management, running a website and more.
We run an Associate Membership scheme to fund the general work of the APPG. Associate members have no say over the running of the group and membership confers no special privileges. Members can sponsor events and may be invited for professional advice.
We also receive project specific funding for individual workstreams. This funding does not influence the work of the group and participants have no influence on the terms of reference of the project or the outcomes of any work, which are at the sole discretion of the APPG in line with our key objectives. Details of individual participants in each workstream are detailed on the relevant page.
5. If you take funding from banks you must be a lobby group?
All APPGs face the challenge of raising funding without the perception of conflict. It is important to receive funding in order to pay staff and produce research. The APPG is very clear with all contributors that the funding confers no special access, privileges or influence. The directors of the secretariat and director of policy all come from business backgrounds and have individual experience with bank mis-selling. The Parliamentarian members have an interest in promoting an efficient and trustworthy financial sector for the benefit of all consumers.
6. How can I contribute to the work of the APPG?
If you think that the output of the Group can be improved, or if there is an aspect of business banking that is being overlooked by the Group then we welcome representations from all individuals and organisations. If you would like to discuss this further, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message by filling out the contact form here .
Alternatively, the APPG is a non-profit organisation that receives no taxpayer funding. If you would like to support the work of the APPG financially then donations would be most welcome and can be done here.
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