AWAY from Brexit, this has been another week when I have been keenly aware of the parallels between my work as the City Minister and the constituency casework I deal with week in, week out.

My ministerial remit includes banking and financial services and a lot of my interaction with the sector has focused on rebuilding trust following the financial crisis of 2008.

As part of this process, we have already made significant changes – such as the introduction of the Senior Managers Regime, which holds those at the top of finance personally responsible for wrongdoing in their organisations. However, when I speak to local people in Salisbury about their banking issues, accountability and chain of command are important but they nearly always take second place to being able to resolve private disputes swiftly and cheaply.

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If banking is to rebuild its reputation, especially amongst small businesses, it needs to find a way to effectively resolve issues without resorting to introducing restrictive lending practices that will affect the availability of credit to other small businesses.

Being able to borrow responsibly without undue red tape but also to maintain a constructive two-way dialogue with their bank is vital to give small businesses both the means and the confidence to grow.

To that end, UK Finance has announced that the banking sector will set up an independent scheme to give small businesses the chance to resolve outstanding past complaints with their bank. This is an important step in the right direction.

The independent review of dispute resolution by the former Director General of the Institute of Directors highlighted the benefits of an ombudsman-led approach to resolving disputes. These include the fact that an ombudsman can make decisions based on what is fair and reasonable, even when no law has been broken.

The FCA plans to expand access to the Financial Ombudsman Service to well over 99 per cent of businesses in April next year, giving them a free and impartial way of resolving disagreements.

I am always willing to advocate for small businesses and sole traders who come to me with banking issues but I hope that giving many more of them one-step access to free dispute resolution will stop a lot of disagreements before they become entrenched and save local people a lot of time, money and stress.