The government has announced that UK lenders will publish the lending data for 10,000 postcodes by the end of the year.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has revealed that seven of the UK’s banks and building societies, which account for 80% of the current stock of lending, have agreed to release the data to identify areas where action is required to boost access to finance.
The data will be published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and the Council of Mortgage Lenders on a quarterly basis.
It will show the outstanding stock of lending that has been committed to customers in relation to loans and overdrafts to small businesses, mortgages and unsecured personal loans.
Alexander said: “From next year businesses will be able to see exactly where the major banks are lending – up to within a few streets of their premises.
“It is a major step forward in terms of transparency and should encourage competition by helping smaller lenders to identify gaps in the market and allowing businesses to hold their local bank to account where they aren’t lending.”
The first dataset will include statistics from the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Barclays, Santander UK, Nationwide, and Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks.
The government claimed that the figures will highlight the more deprived areas where banks are not willing to lend, allowing local and regional banks and lenders, such as Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), to offer finance.
It also expects more banks, building societies and credit unions to sign up to publishing their lending data.
Ben Hughes, chief executive of the Community Development Finance Association which represents CDFIs, called it a “major breakthrough”.
He added: “Having accurate and robust data will enable government, banks, other investors and the community lending sector itself, to address the significant gaps in lending that exist in our disadvantaged communities. It will bring wealth to neighbourhoods that aren’t currently served by the mainstream.
“Our members exist specifically to help communities that others don’t. Now we can be very clear on where those communities are and what help they need.”