The bank HSBC UK has launched a £325 million fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Thames Valley, part of a broader £15 billion lending fund to support SMEs across the UK, to help businesses rebound from the Covid-19 health crisis.
The Fund, which includes more than £10 billion of specific regionally focused 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 (£2 billion), the agriculture sector (increased to £1.2 billion) 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, plus nearly half of British companies (49%) are projecting sales growth.
Jagdeep Kaur Rai, HSBC UK’s Regional Business Banking Director for the South East, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses in Thames Valley and we know they are adapting at pace and looking at what comes next. We recently supported leading gastro-pub Peach Pubs to temporarily close its business and support both its staff and local communities through charitable initiatives during lockdown, with the backing of the SME fund.
“This fund is all about helping businesses to take new opportunities and grow and we want to reassure them that we’re here to support them achieve their goals.”
Peter McIntyre, Head of Small Business Banking at HSBC UK, said: “With the vaccine rollout, there is light at the end of the tunnel and businesses in Thames Valley are starting to look ahead again. We’ve helped British business get through the last year with over £14bn of Covid-19 lending support. Now its time to turn our minds to what comes next and how we help companies grow again, opening up a world of opportunity and contributing towards a sustainable future society. The £15 billion fund will help businesses across the South East to expand internationally and here at home, support key sectors and drive investment across regions.
“We know our customers are innovating and adapting at pace and British businesses tell us that through these uncertain times they need their bank to be flexible, provide funding when they need it most and to support future growth opportunities and that is exactly what this year’s Fund intends to achieve.”
Philip King, Interim Small Business Commissioner said: “SMEs are the backbone of the economy and ensuring they have the ability to invest and grow is of paramount importance. The past 12 months have highlighted the issues many small businesses can face, such as late payments causing real hardship to small businesses. Initiatives such as the lending fund will help more businesses to access finance and will help aid business recovery post COVID-19.”
Since launching the SME Fund in 2014, HSBC has lent more than £75 billion to UK SMEs as part of its commitment to help British businesses innovate, evolve and grow. We remain committed to supporting the needs of our small business customers and have lent over £14bn during the pandemic so far.