By Oliver Smith on Tuesday 2 March 2021
All change as Codat, Form3, Investec, Metro Bank and Starling Bank amend their public commitments.
Several important updates to the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) process were announced on Friday, with the most important being the launch of a new £5m Pool F.
Pool F is formed from the cash returned by Onfido after the identity verification fintech decided its public commitments no longer aligned with its strategic aims.
The new Pool will be open to new and existing applicants. However, the BCR first has to consult with potential applicants to determine whether the £5m should be broken into smaller grant sizes. This consultation won’t take place until August at the earliest.
BCR also announced that five existing awardees had submitted new businesses cases over the last quarter to change the public commitments on which their funding was awarded.
“Change is a constant expectation in this period, with every business having to adapt,” said Aidene Walsh, executive director of the Capability and Innovation Fund grants.
“BCR awardees are no exception: any acceleration or reprioritisation of commitments reflects the reality of the business environment and the ability of these organisations to maintain their focus on the relevant needs of UK SMEs to make an impact now, and into the future.”
In Starling’s case, the bank made certain changes around supporting the development of “client money accounts and complex legal entity ownership”.
The BCR said all changes were required to pass a “rigorous review process” and changes were only approved where they resulted in the acceleration of spending, were due to the proven success of an applicant or were in response to the changing SME environment.
While change is unavoidable, the updating of public commitments part-way through the BCR process will undoubtedly further muddy the water around whether this grant funding is achieving value for money.