Banking giant Barclays has ramped up measures to help small businesses navigate the risks posed by continued Brexit uncertainty.
The lender is to hold more than 100 clinics across the UK from March to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the raft of outcomes for Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.
Chief executive Jes Staley said: “At a time of general uncertainty, Barclays intends to play our part in supporting the UK economy, and in particular providing help to prepare and cope with whatever Brexit will bring, to the one million UK SMEs that we serve up and down the country.
“Barclays is fully prepared for any Brexit scenario, and we stand ready to help our clients through this period too.”
The move comes with Parliament in a deadlock over Brexit with MPs having rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal, and with just over a month to go before Britain leaves the bloc on March 29.
With a lack of clarity over Brexit, UK firms have taken to restructuring operations and stockpiling inventory to protect against potential disruption to supply chains.
Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Bank, added: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK’s economy and the good news is that we continue to see strong lending activity so we know things aren’t slowing down as we approach Brexit.
“However, some businesses are concerned about the current uncertainty, and our network of relationship managers are here to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities the following months will bring.”
The clinics will focus on helping the bank’s small business customers manage cash-flow, working capital, supply chains and labour as well as advise on exporting goods abroad and preventing fraud.
Some of Barclays’ industry specialists will also host clinics to provide sector-specific advice, particularly for agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and healthcare, while the bank also plans to host a series of webinars in the coming months.
Barclays is to issue more than 5,000 invites in the following weeks to UK SMEs and corporate clients.
As part of Barclays’ Brexit contingency plans, the lender is to shift 190 billion euros (£160 billion) worth of assets to Dublin to deal with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit that will see UK-based banks lose passporting rights which allows them to conduct business in the EU.