HSBC UK has launched a £15bn lending fund for small and medium sized businesses, with £500m ring-fenced to support local economies across Cambridge and Suffolk.
Whilst concerns about the broader market remain, customer feedback to HSBC has focused on growth via investment, acquisitions and capital expenditure.
Businesses have told the bank that they are ready to invest for growth and are confident about the prospects for their own businesses. They say their biggest areas of opportunity are sustainability (12%) and digitisation (11%)*.
The Fund aims to help British businesses to innovate, thrive and grow in the UK and internationally. SMEs are vital to the UK economy and account for three-fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
The Fund includes specific regional and locally focused allocations, and also ring-fenced funding for businesses trading internationally (£2 billion), in the agriculture sector (£1.2 billion) the tech sector (£500m) and franchise businesses (£500m).
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “This new fund puts HSBC on course to have lent more than £100 billion to UK small businesses within a decade, which is a great milestone for HSBC and even better for the communities across the country being helped to thrive.
“This extra funding builds on the support available through government schemes like Help to Grow and Start Up Loans to help small businesses grow and reach their full potential.”
Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay added: “The challenges facing small businesses are beyond imagination. The problems caused by poor payment practices such as late or delayed payments, and extended payment terms pile pressure on cash flow.
“Small firms are the lifeblood of the economy, and they must be paid fast and fair, and if they are to have the confidence to invest and build the resilience, they’ll need to weather the storms ahead and they will need the support of funds like this more than ever.”
Peter McIntyre, Head of Business Banking at HSBC UK, said: “SMEs are vital to the UK economy, and our customers have told us they are ready to invest for growth. The £15 billion fund will help businesses to expand internationally, as well as here in the UK, supporting key sectors and driving investment across the regions.
“We want to make a significant contribution to economies across the country, driving employment, local wealth and growth by providing funding, when and where it’s needed most. We know our customers are innovating and adapting at pace and British businesses need their bank to be flexible, supporting future growth opportunities.”
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1008 adults. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.