COUNTLESS business and academic reports cite ‘small businesses as the backbone of the economy’.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for 99 per cent of all registered businesses in the UK and around half of the jobs.

The creation of SMEs is critical for the UK economy, with growth of these firms essential for improving GDP.

However, also cited is the apparent reticence of finance institutions to lend to SMEs.

Without investment growth is difficult, if not impossible for some. Warrington has consistently shown a good start-up rate over the past few years within the Centre for Cities report, being in the top quarter across the 63 cities.

Despite pressure from the government on banks and a stronger ‘small business advisor’ role in many, most SMEs tend to be self-funding, using reserves and personal capital to fund expansion.

It is refreshing then to see a new player in town on the banking scene.

Redwood Bank is holding a launch event later this month to signal its establishment in Warrington. The council, a critical engine of economic development, has a 33 per cent share in the venture. As a dedicated bank for SMEs it will be interesting to see how other players respond.

  •  LAWRENCE Bellamy is deputy provost at the University of Chester’s Padgate campus.