The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) plans to increase the amount of money it makes available for business lending this year, the company's chief executive has pledged.
Chief executive officer of the financier Stephen Hester believes that this represents an important part of the firm's growth strategy throughout 2012.
During a speech delivered at the British Chambers of Commerce's annual conference, Mr Hester said he would be "delighted" if RBS could provide more loans to businesses this year, but added that demand is relatively low as people seek to pay off their debts rather than borrow.
"We have the balance sheet, funding and capital to lend and indeed the future success of RBS requires that we do lend more," the official noted.
Mr Hester went on to say that during 2011, "under half" of the bank's available overdraft lending facility was used by business customers and added there is a need for the UK to "rebalance" where it makes its money in the present economic climate.
By Claire Archer