Lloyds Banking Group has revealed it is to increase its net lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK by £1bn this year.
The high street bank made the commitment as part of its new ‘SME charter’ and also announced it has doubled the amount local managers can lend without central approval to £1m.
It confirmed the extension will be available to all senior managers across the UK where they are agreeing to renew lending.
Lloyds said its charter includes a renewed pledge to help 100,000 start-ups “get off the ground” in 2014 and a commitment to increase lending through trade finance for overseas businesses by 25% this year.
The move addresses a persistent national concern about the availability of finance to SMEs, which will be discussed at Credit Today’s Credit Summit on 3 April, in a free-to-attend Business Lending Debate.
The debate, held at London’s QEII Conference Centre, will see representatives from Lloyds, RBS, Metro Bank and other lenders discuss whether the UK really faces a situation of undersupply in SME finance.
Tim Hinton, managing director of SME and mid markets banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We are committing to grow our total lending by £1bn in 2014, at competitive margins, building on the growth we have achieved over the past three years; and we have doubled the amount certain local managers can lend at their own discretion.
“We will be fair and transparent in all of our dealings with our customers and will provide broader support through our relationship managers and business specialists, as well as a growing number of business mentors.”
The banking group has promised to respond to appeals on lending decisions faster than the industry as a whole and said it will look at 90% of appeals cases within 15 working days, with goodwill payments for any cases which are overturned.
Lloyds stated its continued commitment to providing discounts of 1% on all SME term lending through the government’s Funding for Lending Scheme, while arrangement fees on loans and overdrafts will remain capped at 1.5%.
Hinton added: “We will continue to give businesses the backing they need, so that they can seize these opportunities. Our goal is to help businesses target their various growth opportunities both this year and beyond.”