Many UK high street banks have declined new applications for business bank accounts, or warn of long delays as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to high street banks, they will not be taking any new applications as they concentrate on providing the government loans, such as the Bounce Back Loans, to existing customers.

“Bank staff are working incredibly hard to meet these significant levels of demand [from existing customers], meaning some new customers may currently face some delays when applying to open a business account,” said a spokesperson from UK Finance to the BBC.

Currently banks such as HSBC, Metro Bank, RBS/ Natwest, Santander, TSB have confirmed they are no longer accepting new applications. Barclays bank is accepting them but due to high levels of demand, you can expect a delay in your application being processed.

Although digital banks such as Starling Bank and Monzo are still open to new applications, the lack of branches to deposit cash could be a problem for some small businesses.

“We appreciate banks were swamped with bounce-back applications, but refusing to open business accounts for new customers will stifle start-ups just at the moment we need them most,” said Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Small business owners express their frustration at the difficulty of running a business without being able to access banking benefits. “It is literally impossible to start a business if you can’t process cash flow through a bank account, take card payments and run books through connected software,” Sophia Murday, greengrocer owner, told the BBC.

The government also recently extended the deadline for its coronavirus loan schemes until the end of November 2020, which means more businesses will need bank accounts to be eligible for a loan.

“We need to see those who are starting-up and seeking to open a commercial account, and those who are established and seeking a bounce back, given guaranteed routes through which they can make applications that will be assessed swiftly,” Cherry added.



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