Billions in loans up for grabs for small businesses 

HSBC has launched a £10 billion lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK.

The initiative from the bank is part of a broader commitment to make banking cheaper and simpler for customers.

The £10 billion fund is the largest package of support to be announced by HSBC for UK SMEs, with the aim to ensure ambitious companies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to access the funds they need to grow their businesses.

HSBC’s 2016 SME Fund and broader package of support also includes a free banking offer of up to 18 months for start-ups and 12 months for switchers, along with the introduction of year-long fixed-price £5.50 monthly account tariff, to commence at the end of a customer’s initial free banking period.

The Business Lending Eligibility Checker (BLEC), an online tool offering potential new customers a credit decision in principle for loans of up to £30,000 in under three minutes, will also be offered.

HSBC’s head of UK commercial banking, Ian Stuart says the launch of the £10 billion fund signals the bank’s aspiration to lend more to UK SMEs of all sizes, whether they are a start-up or established business, focused either on the domestic market or looking to trade internationally.

‘Right across the UK there is a wide range of innovative new and established SMEs, proving that location is no barrier to a great business idea.

‘This fund underpins our support by putting SMEs in a stronger position to be making investments that will stimulate local economies and create more jobs.’

Small business minister, Anna Soubry has encouraged small businesses to capitalise on the services being offered by lenders to support their growth.

She says, ‘We have a record number of small businesses driving our growing economy and while the picture is improving, access to finance remains an issue for many of them.

‘It’s absolutely right that banks such as HSBC continue to develop their support for smaller businesses. I also want to see more of these businesses taking advantage of what’s on offer, both from banks and alternative lenders, to help them grow, invest and create jobs for people.’

Kevin Caley, founder and chairman of online lender ThinCats adds, ‘HSBC has kept a low profile in the SME lending sector for several years, so this decision to make a £10 billion commitment to UK businesses will be roundly welcomed.

‘If anything, the proposed funding programme highlights just how big the market for business lending is, and how much room for growth there still is for the alternative finance sector.’

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