Clydesdale owner pledges £6bn boost for Britain's SMEs

The owner of the Clydesdale Bank is pledging a minimum of £6 billion of lending over the next three years for Britain's small and medium-sized businesses.

CYBG owns Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks. Picture: Contributed
CYBG owns Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks. Picture: Contributed

Among the promises being made by CYBG, which also owns the Yorkshire Bank, is some £1bn to support the “day-to-day finance needs” of SMEs.

It is also earmarking £350 million of capital and banking facilities for medium-sized businesses seeking finance for growth, alongside up to £200m in lending for SMEs in the agricultural sector “supporting the UK’s rural economies”.

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The commitment, covering this year, 2018 and 2019, comes as research, conducted on behalf of the lender, suggests that just over a third of UK SMEs continue to find accessing finance from banks a challenge. In addition, almost 10 per cent of businesses said that trying to gain finance was either “very difficult” or “almost impossible”.

The survey also revealed that SMEs identified an increase in the availability of finance as the most important factor in their region which could help them grow and prosper.

CYBG said that following its stock market listing last year, its core SME business returned to growth for the first time in five years in 2016, expanding by 6.1 per cent overall, with new loans and facilities granted growing by 15 per cent in the year to the end of September.

The group’s SME business is focused on firms based across the UK’s “regions”, with more than 90 per cent of SME lending taking place outside of London.

Gavin Opperman, group customer banking director CYBG, said: “CYBG has been acting as a regional economic champion for over 175 years and we have a history of supporting businesses at critical moments in their growth.

“With more than £2bn in funding available in 2017 and £6bn over the next three years, CYBG is proud to finance the innovation and creativity of small and medium enterprises across the UK.”

The survey, which was undertaken by Atomik Research, based on a sample of 750 “SME decision makers”, indicates that of those firms seeking finance from a bank 24 per cent intend to use the finance to hire new staff, 20 per cent plan to invest in new infrastructure or capital equipment while a similar percentage plan to buy or refurbish premises.

Margot James, UK small businesses minister, added: “Today’s announcement from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank will be welcome news for SMEs across the country that want to access the finance they need to grow and prosper.”

Earlier this year, CYBG said it was shutting 79 branches of the Clydesdale and Yorkshire, sparking anger among unions and customers. It pointed to an increase in “digital and mobile engagement”. At the end of January, Clydesdale unveiled a flagship “customer banking centre” in the centre of Edinburgh, aimed at the public and business clients.