To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he plans to maintain the independence from Government of the Business Banking Resolution Service.
29 October 2021
The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), which launched on 15 February 2021, offers a free, independent service which is designed to settle unresolved complaints from larger SMEs. The Government has always been clear that it welcomes the BBRS. However, it is an independent non-governmental body, and this independence is vital to its role. Its credibility, authority and value to SMEs would be undermined if it were possible for the Government to intervene in its decision-making or detailed operational matters. As a result of its independence, I hope you understand that it would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on cases taken before the BBRS, the remuneration of BBRS employees or potential changes that could be made to the BBRS in future.
On the question about eligibility criteria, the Government has already set out high level guidance regarding what the BBRS should look to achieve. In 2018, the former Chancellor wrote to the BBRS emphasising that for the scheme to bring closure it is vital that the scheme focuses on providing a resolution to SMEs who have not had anywhere independent to take their case, rather than seeking to reopen cases that have already been settled under a previous redress scheme. Beyond this high-level guidance, I hope you can appreciate that it is not for the Government to comment on specific details about the eligibility criteria of a voluntary, non-governmental service. Similarly, it is not for Government to comment on how the BBRS handles its cases. I would note, to your question of where cases can be taken if the BBRS determines that compensation is not appropriate, that the BBRS is intended as a definitive and final assessment of cases.
On the question about Government expenditure on the BBRS, the Government has not directed any funding to the BBRS. Rather, as you may be aware the service launched with seven founding banks who make up the majority of the UK banking sector. The BBRS is funded in full by these participating banks, and is independently operated, managed and governed.
Government officials continue to monitor the performance of the BBRS through engagement with the service itself, as well as with SME representatives and the participating banks. The BBRS publishes Quarterly Insight Reports on its website, the most recent of which was released today (28th October) and can be found here: https://thebbrs.org/news/bbrs-quarterly-insight-report-october-2021/.