This compares with just £7bn of lending in 2009 facilitated by NACFB members at the depths of the financial crisis, and is up on last year’s 16% rise. While leasing and asset finance held steady, there was strong growth in alternative forms of finance.

Adam Tyler, chief executive of NACFB, said: “If you were a small business seeking finance to expand and grow back in 2009, it was incredibly difficult to find a lender that would say yes. Fast-forward to 2014 and it’s a different picture. There are now more than 100 SME lenders operating in the UK, and the market is diversifying at an incredible rate."

Data from the NACFB’s annual broker survey indicates that lending levels by new types of business finance such as peer to peer and crowdfunding continued to accelerate, increasing 25% to £624 million.

In contrast traditional forms of finance such as leasing and asset finance and commercial mortgages showed moderate levels of growth, while invoice finance registered a small fall.

Vehicle finance more than doubled from £405million of SME loans in 2012/13 to £835million in 2013/2014. Buy-to-let finance saw a 30% increase to over £3billion. The number of lenders working with NACFB has increased from 45 during the recession to a record 115 in 2014.

“Availability of funds is no longer the issue, but there are still significant barriers facing SMEs who are looking for finance. Small businesses don’t have to rely on their high street bank for credit, but few are aware of the full range of alternatives out there – or that an independent broker will be able to match them with the best lender for their needs,” Tyler said.

As part of an initiative to address lack of knowledge about lending options, NACFB is a contributor to the new website designed to link borrowers to lenders via an independent broker. The site was developed with the support of the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, the Welsh Government and the Federation of Small Businesses.