With increasing confidence sweeping the nation, interest rates down and UK exports on the up, one of the UK’s big four banks – HSBC – has doubled-down on business lending, offering up a pot of £6 billion specifically for small and medium-sized firms, and claiming this year will be “a turning point for British businesses.” The cash will be broken up into regional funds and distributed through their business banking operation.
HSBC’s Head of Business Banking Amanda Murphy told the BBC:
“It’s probably the best time for many years for businesses to invest and grow, and we want to play our part in that. We want to put our money where our mouth is, and that’s why we’re making available these series of funds across the country.”
Murphy responded to claims that banks have been sluggish with their business lending in recent years:
“I can’t speak for all banks, but I know at HSBC we approve over 80% of all applications. […] That said, I get that one in five declines is a lot. We’ve worked really hard with our customers to understand why SMEs are not able to get approval to get funding. In addition to introducing funds, we’re introducing a series of workshops to help businesses that are just starting out or that are early in their growth path to help them access funding.”
Access to capital from traditional financial institutions has been one of the hallmarks of the recession for small businesses, which has led to the meteoric rise of alternative financing such as crowdfunding. The Government has launched various support schemes, including the high-profile Project Merlin, which have had little impact on overall lending figures.
Photo by Elliott Brown