Council banking scheme to help Essex business to close
A council banking initiative set up to help small firms find funding has become a victim of public sector cuts.
The county council and Santander Corporate Banking set up a scheme that lent over £500,000 to Essex businesses.
Many survived the recession as a result but tight budgets mean the initiative must close, the council said.
"Due to financial challenges, difficult budgetary decisions have had to be made," said Peter Martin, leader of the Conservative-controlled council.
"Essex County Council is proud of its innovative Banking on Essex scheme, having provided financial stability and personal relief for some of the county's small enterprises over the past year."
Closing the initiative was a mutual decision reached by both the council and Santander Corporate Banking, Mr Martin said.
Loans and overdrafts
"We are working with Santander to ensure that all Banking on Essex customers are kept fully informed of the decision process - and for them, its business as usual.
"Essex County Council recognises how important small businesses are to the local economy and will continue to provide help and guidance to the county's enterprises through its established business support network."
The scheme will draw to a close on 21 March 2011.
All existing Banking on Essex loans and overdrafts will then be transferred to Santander Corporate Banking.
The loans and overdrafts will be solely provided and administered by Santander.
Lindsey Rix, from Santander, said: "We will continue to support Banking on Essex customers along with other small and medium-sized companies as part of our ongoing commitment to businesses throughout the region."