B&Q is trialing a Government-led scheme to become a bank for small tradesman.

B&Q-owner Kingfisher has signed up to a scheme disclosed in the Autumn Statement to sell supplies and equipment through B&Q and Screwfix on credit.

The pilot will begin early next year through B&Q’s Tradepoint business and Screwfix. Kingfisher will pay the Government a 2% fee to underwrite the loan, The Times reported.

Kingfisher chief executive Ian Cheshire said that the retailer would get access to the Government’s balance sheet at a better rate than it would a bank.

The move allows tradesmen to gain credit even if they would have been too small or too new to qualify under normal banking rules.

Cheshire, who is also chairman of the BRC, said: “By cutting out the banks, you can unlock that credit into the economy.”

The scheme was introduced amid frustration over subdued lending to businesses.