British banks must use first-half profits to boost lending to businesses, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in an interview on Sunday, ahead of key results for the nation's top lenders.
As major banks prepare to reveal that they bounced back in the black during the first six months of 2010, they must get credit flowing, Osborne told The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
"We have got to be pretty clear with the banks ... that we will not tolerate banks piling the pressure on small and medium-sized businesses," the finance minister said.
"They have an economic obligation to assist that sector and give it all the assistance that they got."
HSBC begins the half-year banking results season on Monday, followed by Lloyds Banking Group and Standard Chartered on Wednesday, Barclays on Thursday and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on Friday.
The banks are expected to unveil combined first-half profits of about 8.4 billion pounds, according to the paper.
"Every small and medium-sized company that I have visited in recent weeks has had some problem with their bank - either they have found it difficult to renew their overdraft or they demanded additional collateral, often someone's house," Osborne told The Sunday Telegraph.
"The danger is that, particularly next year, when there is a huge amount of refinancing required, that the small and medium-sized businesses suffer from a lack of access to working capital."