By FWi staff

NATWEST is to become the first major bank to offer overdrafts not payable on demand.

Gordon Pell, its chief executive of retail banking, said: “This turns a long-standing banking practice on its head for the benefit of customers.

“We want to provide small businesses (including agriculture) with a clear upfront commitment, dispensing with the current uncertainty.”

The NatWest committed overdraft will be available early in the New Year and will apply to secured and unsecured overdrafts when customers stick to the agreement terms.

This news was welcomed by campaigning former pig farmer John Nicholson who believes that unless payment on demand is outlawed completely, hundreds of farm businesses will be ruined in the coming year.

HSBC spokesman David Brown, the bank Mr Nicholson has been targeting with his weekly protests in London, said HSBC rarely used the payment on demand facility.

“We do not call them in at the drop of a hat. We follow the principles of the British Bankers Associations code of practice.”

He said he was unable to comment on the NatWest move until it revealed its terms and conditions.