Lloyds Bank is facing a backlash after revealing plans to double charges on its business accounts.
The lender has sent letters to its customers announcing that it will increase the monthly fee on its Business Extra and Electronic Business tariffs, available to firms making more than £3million in turnover.
The move has angered business owners and company directors, who have accused the bank of hypocrisy for vowing to help businesses through the pandemic while hiking charges before Covid restrictions have even lifted.
One customer in Southport, Merseyside, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘This is just another kick in the teeth for businesses who are already struggling, just when we’ve got the chance to get back on our feet.’
Referring to Lloyds’ pandemic motto of ‘Helping Britain Recover’, the customer added: ‘It’s a joke.’
Lloyds revealed the monthly account fee for Business Extra would increase from £7.50 to £15 in June.
The monthly Electronic Business tariff, aimed at firms which make most of their payments electronically, will shoot up from £12.50 to £20.
The amount businesses are charged for paying in or taking money out at a branch, writing or paying in cheques and using other services will rise by up to 60 per cent.
Damien Moore, Tory MP for Southport, said: ‘I’m extremely concerned about this. It should not be happening at a time when we are supposed to be helping businesses bounce back.
During the last financial crisis, the banks were bailed out so it’s only fair that they should be helping out rather than walloping customers with more charges.’
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking has urged Lloyds to reverse the charges.
Its chairman, Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake, said: ‘Lloyds will be fully aware of the difficulty some businesses have in changing banks, so they know business customers are pretty much sitting ducks for these huge increases.
The Lloyds board will justifiably face charges of profiteering from the Covid crisis, and the APPG calls on the bank to reverse this decision.’
Lloyds said: ‘Late last year, we informed our small and medium-sized enterprise customers with a turnover above £3million of a planned change to the cost for their core banking, changes we postponed introducing in 2020 because of the pandemic and this is the first increase in two years.
‘The average increase is £15 a month. For any customer that may encounter difficulties we have processes in place and encourage them to get in touch.’
Lenders have been struggling to keep profitability up, amid rock-bottom interest rates which mean they cannot make as much money from loans to customers.