Funding for lending – is it helping business?

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The Bank of England released the first round of data today on the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). The scheme was launched by the Governor and the Chancellor earlier this year with the aim of improving the net flow of credit to UK households and private non-financial companies.

Overall, the data released today for 2012q3 indicates a very modest positive flow of net credit to households and business

  • A total of £4.4 billion of funds were drawn under the scheme in the third quarter of 2012.
  • However, with £75.7 billion of funding eligible for the FLS (new lending plus 5% of the base of existing lending), this represents less than 6% of potential new lending that could benefit from the scheme.

Unfortunately the FLS data does not distinguish between lending to households versus lending to PNFCs but it is unlikely that this new lending was driven by businesses. The Bank of Englands Trends in Lending shows that net loans raised by PNFCs reduced in q3 2012 suggesting banks have instead been focusing on increasing household and mortgage lending.

So while today's data shows FLS is having some impact on overall lending, this initial picture confirms our view that it is not the full answer to the UKs financial challenges.

The SME finance challenge remains - UK lenders need to reengage with SMEs and support them with their investment plans in challenging economic times. EEF's Finance for Growth report outlines the need for the UK to establish a more dynamic lending environment for SMEs both within the banking sector and beyond it. The report outlines our recommendations for improving competition in the SME banking sector.

Recommendation 1:To encourage lower costs, better T&Cs, and a higher standard of service, EEF urges the government to conduct a focused three month review on ways of bringing more private competition to bear in UK SME banking such as introducing an explicit switching incentive or creating a standard data portal for new challengers to assess potential new customers.

Recommendation 2:In addition the government should use its new ‘business bank' to create a retail challenger at scale to take the main incumbents dominating the SME banking landscape.

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This person has now left EEF. Please contact us on 0808 168 1874 or email us at enquiries@eef.org.uk if you have any questions.

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