Bank HSBC has announced a new £10bn fund that it will be lending to British SMEs. The money will be available from 43 regional branches across the country and will be available even to those that aren’t already HSBC customers.
The fund will be allocated regionally across the entire UK, with the idea of ensuring investment in all parts of the country. For instance, from the total sum, £900 million is dedicated to the North West. East Anglia is allocated £400 million. In addition to the lending available, HSBC is also offering 18 months of free business banking to start-ups and 12 months banking for existing SMEs who switch to HSBC
Head of UK Commercial Banking at HSBC Ian Stuart says: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and at HSBC we are committed to providing the finance and support they need to realise their business goals. We want to put SMEs in a stronger position to make investments that will stimulate local economies and create more jobs. 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.”
Two cheers for this initiative. One of the most frustrating aspects of the credit crunch (remember when we called it that?), and the subsequent recession and slow recovery, was that banks became increasingly tight when it came to lending to SMEs. Cashflow is always a key SME concern and, in those very tricky times, it was notable that even getting a relatively small overdraft was very tricky for many SMEs.
Even a successful and profitable small business can sometimes become precarious. Bank lending can be a lifeline that keeps an enterprise going during a rocky patch. It will be interesting to see whether this full amount is lent responsibly and swiftly. If it is, such funds could be a real SME filip in these increasingly uncertain times.