HSBC announces £700m fund for region’s SMEs

Picture:  Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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HSBC has announced a £700m fund for lending to small and medium-sized businesses across Yorkshire and the Humber.

The scheme, which is part of a national initiative to support smaller firms, aims to improve access and lower costs for business lending in the sector.

Companies in West Yorkshire can apply for a share of a £400m fund, while firms in South Yorkshire can access £150m in support. North Yorkshire and Humberside has also been awarded a £150m fund.

The funds are three of 40 being launched nationally, which will offer £8bn of support to SMEs around the country.

The bank said it has doubled the amount of cash for West Yorkshire businesses compared to its SME lending fund in 2014.

Andy Bennett, area director of business banking in West Yorkshire, said: “SMEs in are ambitious and we are open for business and ready to help them invest to grow.

“Too often I hear customers say they weren’t aware just how closely HSBC works with SMEs and start-ups. We want to change that perception.”

As well as funds for lending, HSBC is waiving arrangement and security fees on loans between £1,000 and £300,000 through to the end of July, something which could save an average small business hundreds of pounds, it said.

The bank is offering 18-months of fee-free business banking for start-ups, while existing SMEs can will pay no fees for 12 months if they switch.

Ian Stuart, head of HSBC’s UK Commercial Bank, said the bank has a significant network that can help smaller businesses.

He said: “It’s vital that businesses across the country, from start-ups and sole traders upwards, know that HSBC is there to support them.

“We currently approve more than 85 per cent of loans, and our net lending to business is up in 2015 – but we want to do even more.

“This fund is an aspiration, not a limit, on our ambitions.”

Access to funding and the costs of business banking have remained challenging for SMEs despite the economic recovery.

A review into banking services for SMEs by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is expected to report next year.

HSBC - Europe’s largest bank - saw pre-tax profit of $7.1bn (£5bn) for the first three months of 2015. It also said it may move its headquarters out of the UK due to rising costs and regulation.