Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme shows signs of lending improvement

8th May 2013

The Government’s major lending scheme, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, has begun to deliver growing levels of business credit, according to new Government figures.
 
The Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Santander have all reported increases in the use of the EFG scheme, with Q4 2012 lending at its highest level since September 2011, at £91.7 million.
 
An upturn in business lending to small and medium-sized enterprises is most welcome in the current economic climate and comes after the Government wrote directly to the banks, whilst naming and shaming those failing to make full use of EFG to provide finance to SMEs.
 
To date, EFG has provided over £2 billion to over 20,000 SMEs. The use of the scheme peaked upon its launch in 2009, but the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was forced to take action after disappointing annual lending figures in 2012.
 
The revamp of the scheme not only made it more accessible and easier to use; business minister, Michael Fallon also hoped it would challenge the main high street banks to make better use of the scheme.
 
"This is an important step towards increasing the finance small firms can access. Some banks are working harder, and they should be recognised for that," he said.
 
"It’s important this is not a one-off. Banks must continue to improve their use of EFG. Access to finance is a crucial issue to SMEs and economic growth will depend on businesses having the certainty that banks are lending.
 
"This increase needs to be maintained to improve business confidence and demonstrate that responsible lending can still take place."
 
The EFG scheme is by no means a competitor to commercial bank lending. In fact it is designed to complement it, ensuring those SMEs who may be rejected for a standard bank loan, are able to secure finance.


Image: Cruccone (flickr)

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