Being financially dyslexic I don't read the business sections much but have heard quite a few demands from the press and politicians that banks start lending again. Having failed my maths "O" level I have no idea whether this is a good thing or not, but then a lot about banking and finance puzzles me, such as: if I try to open a bank account, so I can pay in money, and don't want any sort of loan, why won't the banks help?
Recently I started a new job with a public sector organisation who for legal reasons are unable to make payments to sole contractors, so someone suggested I start up my own limited company. Having picked a suitable name (2626) to symbolise the almost limitless possibilities of the alphabet, I registered with Companies House and obtained my Certificate of Incorporation, naming my wife as the other Director and equal share-holder - whatever THAT means.
So far, so good; all I had to do now was open a business account - which was where my troubles started. Despite having had a current account for almost thirty years, living in the same property for 14, not requiring any sort of loan and being able to guarantee regular income into the account, no bank seemed able to help. Several said the process would take weeks and I couldn't wait that long; I needed to give my employer bank details so I could be paid.
Finally I contacted Barclays Bank, and at first they were quite helpful. Okay, they DID ring me at work, and keep talking even when I said I was at work, and were unable to find me an appointment with any local manager for a week, but at least the wheels were set in motion. I was given the name of a bank manager who would be able to meet me and was told to expect her call.
The lady didn't call. After a few days, I called back. She wasn't available. I asked when we might be able to arrange my coming in to open an account. This went on for a while. Finally we spoke on the phone and she said my wife would also need to come as she was a Co-Director. I said this would be tricky as not only do we each have two jobs, we also have two kids. The bank manager said in that case she would email me some papers for my wife to sign which I could bring along; my wife could then pop into a branch later on to confirm her identity. I said this was fine and waited for the email.
It never arrived. By the day of my appointment I still hadn't heard and rang the manager. Even getting to speak to her took several attempts. She then said she had emailed me the papers "half an hour ago". I checked my spam folder: nothing. As I then had to go to my other job, I had to cancel my appointment; I decided there was no point even trying to attempt to go into business with Barclays.
I have now been trying to open a business bank account for four weeks, without success. My payroll company keep asking for a bank account so they can pay me for work I've been doing. As yet I've been unable to open one, but a lady from NatWest has now said she will call me tomorrow, after which it might take another 10-14 working days to get my account open and enable me to be paid.
Britain may well be open for business; but how are businesses supposed to be open for business when banks are so extraordinarily unhelpful? Didn't we, the tax-payer, bail out all the banks a few years back? And didn't Barclays themselves benefit from a £9.9bn subsidy just last year? So why should we keep supporting banks who seem unable to help us in return?