From 1 November 2016, nine of the UK’s biggest banks will be obliged to pass on the details of small businesses they have rejected for finance to three internet-based finance platforms – Funding Xchange, Business Finance Compared and Funding Options. These platforms will then share these details with alternative finance providers and go on to facilitate a conversation between the business and any provider who expresses an interest in supplying finance to them.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and First Trust Bank, will all have to offer access to these finance platforms, with small businesses having to give their permission before their details are shared.

Research had shown that 71% of UK businesses seeking finance only ask one lender and, if rejected for finance, many simply give up on investment rather than seek alternative options.

Last year 324,000 UK small and medium sized businesses sought a loan or overdraft, 26% of these were initially declined by their bank and only 3% of those declined were referred to other sources of help.

The scheme was enacted by the Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations 2015.

In April 2016, the UK government introduced the SME credit data sharing scheme which requires banks and credit reference agencies to share SME credit information equally with all providers. This increases competition in business lending by making it easier for challenger banks and other lenders to make credit decisions on businesses to help them get the funding they need.