Barclays to launch Brexit Clinics for farmers

Barclays double unsecured lending limit for SMEs to £100,000

Barclays has announced that it will host an additional 100 Brexit clinics throughout October and November to provide support to customers amidst ongoing uncertainty.

The bank will focus on agriculture and manufacturing clients with the first wave of clinics, which will be hosted across the UK in local community spaces, bank branches and Eagle Labs, the bank’s co-working innovation spaces.

To help tackle the uncertainty, Barclays will also be launching a report at the clinics to showcase some of the most diverse rural businesses across the UK. The report shines a spotlight on how some farmers have diversified to build resilience, including Gazegill Organics, in Lancashire.

After seeing a demand for local home-grown produce from consumers hungry to find out more about the origins of their food, Gazegill Organics began selling produce online directly to consumers across the country. As their farming business grows, Gazegill has also invested in renewable energy sources for the farm, including solar-panels and a turbine, to lower costs.

Emma Robinson, Head of Gazegill Organics, said: “We know Brexit is going to bring both opportunities and challenges over the next few years. At Gazegill Organics we’re responding by really tuning into the domestic demand for locally sourced goods and organic produce.

“We’ve diversified so that we can sell direct to the consumer, and sales of our organic food has tripled in the last year.”

The bank’s network of 1,500 relationship managers and industry specialists will host the clinics, with agricultural managers focusing on topics like trading relationships, the future of subsidy payments, agricultural policy, migrant labour, and exporting.

Thousands of invites will be issued over the following weeks to SMEs, farmers and corporate clients across the country.

Over a thousand SMEs attended the first 100 clinics in March as Barclays announced a package of support including on the ground relationship support and a £14billion lending fund.

Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Our number one priority is ensuring businesses have the help they need to get ready for Brexit and take advantage of the opportunities beyond.

“These clinics are a welcome initiative, giving businesses across the agricultural and manufacturing sectors more face to face support and tailored advice on how to prepare, including what financing products are available to them.

“We have turbocharged preparations for Brexit and it’s great to see the banking sector play its part, complementing our own Brexit Business Readiness Events happening right now across the UK, where businesses of all sizes can get the advice they need from all relevant government teams in one place.”

Jes Staley, Chief Executive of Barclays Group, said: “Barclays is committed to supporting the UK economy, including the one in four UK agricultural businesses we serve. We are already helping SMEs up and down the country prepare for whatever Brexit will bring. Now our clinics will provide tailored advice to agricultural and manufacturing businesses, ensuring these essential sectors have access to the information they need through this period of uncertainty.”