Belfast Telegraph

HSBC unveils highest ever £12bn small business lending fund

The banking giant has ring-fenced £1 billion of the fund for the first time to help UK firms trading overseas.

HSBC has hiked its annual lending fund for small businesses to a record £12 billion and has ring-fenced £1 billion for the first time to help boost overseas trade as Brexit approaches.

The banking giant said the annual lending commitment was its highest to date since launch five years ago and £2 billion more than in 2017.

It comes after HSBC’s 2017 fund was fully used by small and medium-sized UK firms and brings the total amount so far under the initiative to £46 billion since 2014.

British companies are optimistic about their trade growth prospects but it’s important they can get the finance they need to achieve it Amanda Murphy, HSBC UK

The group said the decision to include a new allocation for UK firms to grow their business overseas comes after its own research showed 72% of British businesses expect their cross border trade to increase this year.

Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking at HSBC UK, said: “After the success of last year, this increased SME Fund 2018 will help more businesses plug the gap between ambition and reality, supporting their growth.”

She added: “British companies are optimistic about their trade growth prospects but it’s important they can get the finance they need to achieve it.”

Small Business Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, welcomed the increased funding commitment.

She said: “With more than 1,000 starting up every day, the UK’s 5.7 million small businesses are the backbone of our economy.”

The fund will continue to be split and allocated to regions across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure the support is offered nationwide.

It will also again include a minimum £300 million for UK agricultural businesses.

The new SME lending fund is double the inaugural £6 billion that was launched five years ago.

This year’s launch of the fund also comes as Royal Bank of Scotland’s £775 million boost for small business banking is finally taking a step forward, with banks, lenders and fintech firms due to attend an event this week ahead of bidding to access the cash.

The multi-million pound fund comes from RBS as part of conditions attached to its £45 billion government bailout during the financial crisis and is designed to help increase lending available to SMEs.

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