The Banking Competition Remedies (BCR), the company set up to disperse £775m from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to address competition concerns, has recently announced that it will begin handing out the awards in February 2019.
Applications for the first tranche of money, which includes grants of £120m, £100m and £60m, will be opened in November until the end of the year, the distributor has said. Meanwhile, an “incentivised switching scheme” will also be launched at the same time to encourage small businesses to move away from RBS using cash “dowries” of up to £50,000.
The bank has been forced to pay out the £425m pot to address concerns from European competition regulators that the financial crisis-era bailout of RBS constituted illegal state aid. It had previously been requested that the bank sell its Williams and Glyn business lending arm, but it was unable to find a buyer.
The schemes were initially planned to be started during 2018, but they were delayed by the slow recruitment of key members of staff due to not finding candidates with enough experience and that were not conflicted.
The announcement will open up opportunities for the UK’s challenger banks, as they seek to get a leg up in small business banking.
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