Retailers are at risk of being forced to pay extra banking charges, as Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have warned they could begin charging business owners to hold their cash.

The precaution came as the banks wrote to 1.3million business customers, informing them that a decision to cut interest rates “could result in charging interest on credit balances”.

Any such move would make them the first banks in the UK to make customers pay for their accounts. Personal bank accounts would not be charged.

Ferhan Ashiq, who owns Day-Today in Prestonpans, East Lothian, told Retail Express that he was concerned by the potential move.

“It’s very troubling,” he said. “We’re already facing charges. If these changes did go ahead, I would immediately switch to a different bank.”

If these changes did go ahead, I would immediately switch to a different bank

Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, agreed, calling the banks’ consideration “deeply concerning”.

“Small business confidence is already at a four-year low,” he said. “Firms are less optimistic, cutting headcount and curbing investment intentions.”

Cherry called on the Bank of England not to make any decisions that might provoke banks to charge their clients to deposit cash.

He added that it was vital for banks holding deposits from small businesses to do “everything they can to update customers…during this uncertain economic period”.

“We would also encourage small firms themselves to take action and consider whether it’s worth switching to a more competitive Business Current Account,” he said.