Government matchmaking scheme helps businesses find £4 million of finance

Small businesses struggling to get finance have received almost £4 million of funding thanks to an innovative government scheme.

230 small businesses, ranging from beauticians to forklift truck training companies, which were rejected for loans by some of the UK’s biggest banks, have gained £3.8 million from alternative lenders over the past nine months.

The government-backed bank referral scheme, launched in November last year, requires nine of the UK’s biggest banks to pass on the details of small businesses they have turned down for loans to three finance platforms, namely Funding Xchange, Business Finance Compared and Funding Options. The platforms then share their details with alternative finance providers and facilitate a conversation between the business and any provider who is interested in supplying finance to them.

Loans resulting from this scheme ranged from £200 to £500,000, with an average of £16,000.

A fourth finance platform, Alternative Business Funding, will join the scheme from November 2017 to further widen the options available.

The government will continue to work with banks to embed and improve their referral processes.

Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of Britain’s economy and it is right they have access to a wide range of sources of finance.

“A refusal from a big bank should not be the end of the line for a small business and, thanks to our match-making scheme they have another avenue to try for funding.

“Over 200 businesses from beauticians to forklift truck training firms have received the money that they need to grow and we expect this number to increase as the scheme matures.”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “FSB championed the proposals for a mandatory bank referral scheme, to diversify the lending market and boost the provision of alternative finance to those turned down by the main traditional banks.

“We welcome that government has delivered the three platforms and congratulate the scores of firms that have benefited in the scheme’s early stages. To provide further economic benefit across the UK the scheme must now scale-up, with more referrals and more businesses successfully securing finance as a result.”

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