As you may have read, it seems the Treasury and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, John Glen MP, have still not grasped how important it is for SMEs to have "Access to Justice". Many of us were shocked and disappointed by the Simon Walker Report which recommended an extended FOS as a way for SMEs to combat bank abuse. Aside from the fact many SME owners have little or no confidence in the FOS, this proposed extension with powers to award up to £350k, is of no relevance to the majority of SME’s involved with SME Alliance, whose losses far exceed this figure.
It is truly disappointing that, having come so far in highlighting the plight of SMEs and having got the support of the APPG on Fair Business Banking, the TSC, the FCA, the DUP and so many MPs, the Chancellor and John Glen MP feel able to ignore the need for a Tribunal that would give SMEs access to justice. And the grounds that it would cost SMEs too much are spurious. At present and as we all know, the cost of trying to get justice ranges from tens of thousands of pounds to millions via the Civil Courts. We have been priced out of access to justice.
Please see below various extracts from the press and Hansard where John Glen MP on the one hand recognises the appalling treatment some SMEs have experienced and on the other hand does not recognise the urgent need for a Tribunal. We cannot have got this close to getting justice for the whole thing to be just kicked into the long grass in such a cavalier manner.
This is all down to politics now and I know Kevin Hollinrake MP is working very hard to try and reverse the Minister's decision. We need to help him by writing to the Minister and as many MPs as possible, so they can pass on our views to the Chancellor. The 5M plus SMEs in this Country who employ over 20M people, have not had access to justice for many years. And now we have the chance for progress via the Tribunal or even via the Tribunal and the extended FOS, the Chancellor and the Minister are happy to reply on what is at best an ill researched report and at worst a misrepresentation of key facts, to quietly sweep justice under the carpet.
Post Brexit it will be even more important that the SME sector functions efficiently and is protected from unethical conduct.
Please visit or write to your MPs - many of whom are already very supportive of the Tribunal.
All our members are encouraged to contribute to the SME Alliance weekly blog.