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Royal Bank of Scotland is 'desperate to lend'

Chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Stephen Hester has said the bank is "desperate" to boost its lending to businesses across the UK.

Though many have blamed the banks for not lending to the people who need it, Mr Hester told the Sunday Times RBS has £20 billion ($31 billion) available for businesses to borrow but said economic worries were stopping them from applying for loans.

He said the bank was lending as much as it could but added it cannot "force companies to borrow".

The Bank of England recently expanded its Funding for Lending scheme - which offers cheap financing to banks on the condition they pass savings on to customers - in an attempt to boost lending, although Mr Hester's comments suggest the economy needs to recover further if lending is to pick up.

RBS, which is partially owned by the state, reported a return to profit in its quarterly results last week.

By Tony Aynsley