Wednesday 22 September 2021 6:00 am

Volatile equity market swells state-owned bank’s balance sheet

A strong performing equity market amid pandemic-induced volatitlity swelled the state-owned development bank’s balance sheet.

The British Business Bank (BBB) extended £89bn of loans to UK businesses last year, up £80bn from last year, as businesses scrambled for credit during the pandemic.

The BBB extended just £8bn in loans before the pandemic, highlighting the scale of demand for credit as Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the normal functioning of the UK economy. 

Catherine Lewis La Torre, chief executive of the BBB, said: “In response to the pandemic the British Business Bank performed a role vital to the UK government, finance markets and the economy as a whole.”

The BBB oversaw the Covid-19 emergency loan schemes, which were designed to expand access to credit for businesses struggling to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic. 

The bank normally provides finance for fast-growing businesses who struggle to secure credit from mainstream lenders through initiatives such as its start-up loan programme, which provided 11,000 loans last year, a record high.

The government-owned bank made a 14.6 per cent rate of return, significantly higher than its 0.10 per cent target.

1.77m businesses secured funds from the BBB.