HSBC is set to double the amount ringfenced for international businesses in its small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) loans fund this year, with the help available for the agriculture sector also set to rise.
The bank’s 2019 SME fund will total £14bn, a £2bn increase on last year’s figure and the largest fund since the scheme was launched in 2014.
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The amount ringfenced for international businesses in the UK has doubled to £2bn, with the sum set aside for agriculture rising from £300m to £1bn.
The remaining £11bn is divided into regional allocations, to ensure the loans go to companies from all regions in the UK.
HSBC said the fund represented part of the bank’s commitment to help British businesses grow and prepare for Brexit.
“We’ve always supported ambitious UK businesses, and we see it as our responsibility to be there for our customers whether conditions are benign or challenging,” said HSBC head of commercial banking Amanda Murphy.
John Glen, the economic secretary to the treasury and city minister, said: “SMEs are crucial to our economy and this lending fund will help more businesses to access the finance they need as we get ready to leave the EU.”
Concerns have been raised that SMEs may not be prepared for the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Ministers launched a finance council to support lending to small businesses earlier this month in an attempt to bolster support for the firms.
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