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At the end of March 2020, the British Business Bank (BBB) revealed that it had provided £8 billion of financial support through its various programmes, an increase of 21% from £6.6 billion in March 2019.

The UK’s national economic development bank has published its 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, revealing that it has strived to create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses. According to the Bank, 93% of the finance supported in the last financial year was delivered through smaller, newer or alternative finance providers.

The BBB also announced that at the end of March this year, it was working with more than 140 finance providers in total.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, chief executive officer at the BBB, explained: “The Bank and our role within the UK economy has been thrown into sharp relief as we continue to work as a trusted partner of government to create the conditions for improved access to finance that will enable smaller businesses to stabilise, prosper and grow.

“The results reported in this set of accounts, which include our support for £8 billion of finance to 98,000 businesses, demonstrate that we continue to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.”

Since March 2020, the Bank has launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, and announced that it has delivered tens of billions of pounds of finance to over a million businesses across the UK.

In the last financial year, the Bank achieved the following:

  • The Bank identified regional imbalances in access to finance, and pushed its regional funds to make a total of £436 million of investments. The number of SMEs outside London benefiting from the Bank’s programmes increased to 83,000, up from 75,000 at March 2019;
  • It helped SMEs to seek the finance best suited to their needs, as seen by the 21% increase in the number of visitors to the Bank’s online finance hub;
  • It’s commercial arm, consisting of British Business Investments and British Patient Capital, hit a record level of new commitments, totalling £952 million over the year;
  • The Bank’s flagship Enterprise Finance Guarantee expanded, enabling support for a wider variety of finance through asset finance and asset-based lenders;
  • Lastly, it’s Start Up Loans programme announced it had lent £500 million since its inception in 2012, a milestone for the company.

Lord Smith of Kelvin, chair of the British Business Bank, added: “We expect the BBB to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. We stand ready, willing and able to do what is needed to help address whatever challenges lie ahead.”

Established in 2014, the BBB is the UK government’s economic development bank that aims to make finance markets for SMEs work more effectively, enabling the businesses to grow and build UK economic activity. It predominantly designs and manages SME access-to-finance programmes for the government.

The Bank also works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:

  • The Business Finance Guide sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages;
  • The BBB Finance Hub provides information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers, case studies and lessons from real businesses.

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