HSBC has announced a £10bn fund to provide loans to small and medium-sized businesses across the UK.
The money, which has been pledged to help SMEs get access to cheaper finance, forms part of a package of support for smaller firms.
This includes a fixed account fee of £5.50 per month for a year after 18 months of free banking, as well as lowering the personal guarantee fee from £80 to £10 on loans of £10,000 and more. Reduced fees, the bank hopes, will help to retain existing commercial customers and attract new ones.
The lender has also set up an online credit eligibility checker for small businesses that want to apply for up to £30,000, which will give a decision in less than three minutes.
Support for ‘lifeblood’
HSBC’s head of UK commercial banking, Ian Stuart, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and we are committed to providing the finance and support they need to realise their business goals.”
He added that uncertainty over the UK’s position in Europe would not affect demand for the fund. “Businesses will continue to operate either way; whether you’re a tax operator or a corner shop, you will still be trading after June,” he said.
HSBC has not witnessed a decline in loan applications so far this year, Stuart said, and the bank approves 89 per cent of applications from SMEs.