SME Liaison Panel starts work
04 October 2021
The SME Liaison Panel held its first meeting on 8th September. It was great to have the Panel assembled, and the members fulfilled my expectations – diverse, forthright, constructive. Some of the members have long experience of fighting for the rights of SME complainants, others are newer to the task, but everyone contributed.
The BBRS asked us for our views on their Post Implementation Review. The Panel considers that this review is very important, since if the BBRS has any shortcomings this process will provide an opportunity to identify them and put them right. The Panel has fed back its concerns that the Review’s terms of reference must be broad enough to ensure that stakeholders’ legitimate expectations are met, and not tied narrowly to legalistic interpretations of eligibility criteria. The Panel also wishes to suggest potential independent reviewers. We will engage constructively but firmly with BBRS so that SME stakeholders’ views are clearly articulated. We will report further on this issue as it develops.
The Panel heard from Alexandra Marks, the BBRS’ Chief Adjudicator. We were pleased to learn that some of the first complaints had already been resolved successfully. However, the Panel is aware that some complainants have already expressed concerns about how their complaints have been handled and the operation of the eligibility criteria. We are setting up a dedicated comment form, and will be inviting people to tell us about their experience of the Scheme, and to give us their views on SME finance. While we cannot get involved in the decisions made by the BBRS on individual cases, we can and will listen to people’s experiences, and feed those back to the BBRS, with suggestions for improvement. We will also be receiving information from the BBRS about the operation of the Scheme, which will help us to assess how it is working and whether to suggest changes.
At our next meeting, we will be considering the early data about the operation of the Scheme. We will continue to report on our work – we are committed to being independent and transparent.
Chair, SME Liaison Panel