Government to increase access to small business finance

The British Business Bank (BBB) will ramp up its existing services to increase access to small business finance.

It comes after policymakers, ministers and banking chiefs met earlier this month to form a new Business Finance Council.

According to reports, the Council comprising of members from the Treasury, UK Finance, Barclays, HSBC, Funding Circle, Lloyds, Metro Bank and more, has been launched to help “identify and address any barriers” faced by businesses in securing the finance they need.

As part of this programme, the wholly Government-owned BBB will expand its existing services to help lenders support the small business community.

This is currently achieved through the £300 million Enterprise Finance Guarantee, which enables lending to viable smaller businesses that lack sufficient security against which to borrow.

There will also be approximately £1 billion of “headroom” available this financial year through the BBB’s Enable Guarantee scheme. The Enable regime reduces the amount of regulatory capital participating lenders are required to hold for their loans to small businesses.

Commenting on the report, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Lenders must empower their SME customers to seize the huge variety of opportunities that lie ahead as we leave the EU on 31 October.

“Our new Business Finance Council will bring together key players, ensuring that finance continues to flow to our brilliant British businesses so they can do just that.

“Our financial system is strong and banks have the capacity to lend. I would urge lenders to take advantage of the support on offer from our fantastic British Business Bank.”

The news comes shortly after the Government revealed that more than £32 million has been raised through the Bank Referral Scheme. The scheme, launched in 2016, has now helped 1,700 businesses which have been turned down by banks to access alternative finance opportunities.

Andrew Firman Partner in our corporate & commercial team commented: “This is potentially good news as it may be that post 31 October small businesses will need all the help they can get to seize the opportunities which the current Government perceive as myriad.”