HSBC UK has launched a record £15bn lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK, as part of its commitment to help British businesses innovate and grow as the country looks to rebound from the Covid-19 health crisis.
The Fund, which includes over £10bn of specific regionally focussed allocations, will seek to ensure that companies throughout the country can benefit, supporting regional economies, employment opportunities and driving growth.
This year’s Fund also includes increased ring-fenced pots for businesses trading internationally (£2bn), the agriculture sector (increased to £1.2bn) and new ring-fenced pots for businesses in the tech sector (£500m) and franchise businesses (£500m).
Despite the challenging economic environment, 62% of UK businesses intend to increase investment in their business in the next year, according to research from HSBC, with the focus on four fundamental areas of their business in 2021 – employee well-being, customer experience, cash flow/capital management and security.
Almost three quarters (71%) of UK businesses expect to have returned to pre pandemic levels of profitability by the end of 2022 and a fifth by the end of this year and nearly half of British companies (49%) are projecting sales growth.
Philip King, Interim Small Business Commissioner said: “The past 12 months have highlighted the challenges many small businesses face. The issue of late payment and pressure on cash flow is more prevalent now due to the continued impact of the pandemic.
“SMEs are the backbone of the economy and initiatives such as the lending fund will help more businesses to access finance and support business recovery post COVID-19.”
Paul Scully, Small Business Minister said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and though this has been such a challenging period, we have seen many businesses find creative ways to innovate, adapt and plan for the future.
“This extra finance from HSBC will help small businesses not only prepare for reopening, but to try new ideas and build back better from the pandemic, complementing the unprecedented support available from the Government.”