Barclays under fire from award-winning licensee after 24-hour loan refusal

By Adam Pescod

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bury st edmunds, Debt, Credit card, Barclays

Barclays under fire from award-winning licensee after 24-hour loan refusal
Barclays has insisted that it is “supporting and lending to the pub industry” after an award-winning licensee hit out at its refusal to offer him financial assistance.

Steve Blake, of Benson Blakes Bar & Grill in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said he was frustrated at not being granted a 24-hour loan of £5,000 from Barclays last week. He has also been unsuccessful in attempts to secure an overdraft from the bank, which says it has “significant concerns” about the pub’s financial position.

Blake admitted that the business made a loss of £100,000 in its first year of trading, but said it made a profit of £22,000 this year.

Last week, he paid VAT arrears of £27,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and was seeking a loan of £5,000 from Barclays to assist him with the payment.  

Blake explained that credit card payments worth £6,000 from the previous Friday would not clear until Wednesday 13 March, the day after his payment to HMRC was due.

HMRC informed him there would be a £4,500 penalty if the full £27,000 was not paid on Tuesday 12 March, and Blake had to rely on his family to lend him the money.

“I have been in the licensed trade for over 30 years and it has never been tougher than at present,” said Blake.

“Our present company started in November 2010 and things were very tough in the first year.

“We turned it around last year and the last three months have been 26% up on last year — we are reducing our debt all the time.

“It is just a general frustration of mine that we do not get any support from the banks because we are just too small for them. It would have just been nice to get a bit of assistance.”

A Barclays bank spokesperson said: “We were unable to accept the most recent request for finance from Mr Blake as we have significant concerns about the financial health of the business and his ability to service the debt.

“Barclays is fully committed to supporting and lending to the pub industry. We want to lend; lending is what we do and it is our obligation to lend responsibly to businesses and help them grow.”

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