The Government and Britain's leading banks are funding a new telephone helpline for small businesses facing problems with debt.

Struggling insurance groups can receive counselling and a self-help pack.

The helpline, a three-year initiative will be launched this July, receiving £180,000 funding annually for three years. The Government will invest £80,000 per year, with the banks jointly investing £100,000 annually.

The seven banks involved are: Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, Lloyds TSB, Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Co-operative Bank.