Lloyds Bank has committed to lending £18bn to UK businesses over the course of 2020, the same amount as it promised in 2019 despite the uncertainties of the year ahead.
The high-street bank said the money will be lent to companies across the spectrum, from “micro-businesses” to large multinationals.
Lloyds has made the pledge despite what it called “the continuing challenging economic environment”. Over the coming year, global economic growth is predicted to be weak, while the UK has to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the European Union.
Other UK banks have also made lending commitments to the British economy, with Barclays last year announcing a £15bn lending fund for the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses for 2019-21.
Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta Osorio said: “In 2020, our commitment to supporting businesses is undiminished.” He said Lloyds will seek to provide “not just for financial support but also for expert guidance to navigate the challenges they may face”.
By the third quarter of 2019, Lloyds had lent £15bn of its £18bn pot, figures showed. Businesses it has supported range from London-based confectioner Jealous Sweets to Lerwick Port Authority, which borrowed to develop a new white fish market in Lerwick Harbour in Shetland, Scotland.
Lloyds will be hoping for a better year in 2020 than it had in 2019. Its third-quarter profits took a major hit due to payment protection insurance claims which amounted to £1.8bn.
Most analysts are predicting another year of weak growth for the UK economy, however, while the low interest rates that have been hurting banks’ profit margins look set to stay.