Monday 18 July 2016 1:00 am

NatWest launches a not-so-small fund for small businesses

NatWest will say this morning that it has faith in small businesses, while launching a £1bn fund.

The bank is launching a new lending fund, which is designed to support the growth of businesses across England and Wales which have not yet broken the £2m mark for turnover. 

"Small businesses make up more than 99 per cent of private sector businesses, so when they want to grow it's essential we're there to help them," said Marcelino Castrillo, managing director of business banking at NatWest. "With the creation of this £1bn fund we want to assure small businesses that we have funds available and we want to lend."

Small traders can apply for fixed rate loans of up to £500,000. Businesses which take out the loan but decide not to use it can also repay the sum with no penalty costs, and there are also no setup fees.

Read more: The Co-op Bank has hired a new CFO

"We want to be easy to do business with and for our products to be simple and transparent, which is why we scrapped set up and repayment fees on our loans," Castrillo added. "In this period of uncertainty, we hope this flexibility will give confidence to businesses that are ready for growth but might be delaying investment decisions."

If recent research from the Federation of Small Businesses is anything to go by, the fund could not come at a better time. According to interest group, small business confidence had reached a four-year low just shortly before the EU referendum, with many blaming increased tax and labour costs for a fall in profits.