It is the largest package of support to be announced by HSBC for UK SMEs and has been structured regionally, so that small firms in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can access funds.
HSBC said the fund is designed to meet strong demand from UK SMEs and follows the success of the £8bn fund HSBC launched in 2015.
Ian Stuart, HSBC’s head of UK commercial banking, said the fund “signals our aspiration to lend more to UK SMEs of all sizes, whether they are a start-up or established business, focused either on the domestic market or looking to trade internationally”.
He 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. Right across the UK there is a wide range of innovative new and established SMEs, proving that location is no barrier to a great business idea. This fund underpins our support by putting SMEs in a stronger position to be making investments that will stimulate local economies and create more jobs.”
The fund is described as part of a “broader package of support” including new free banking offers for start-ups and switchers and other changes designed to make banking cheaper. HSBC is also launching the Business Lending Eligibility Checker (BLEC) – an online tool offering potential new customers a credit decision in principle for loans of up to £30,000 in under three minutes.
Small business minister Anna Soubry has welcomed the announcement. She said: “We have a record number of small businesses driving our growing economy and while the picture is improving, access to finance remains an issue for many of them. It’s absolutely right that banks such as HSBC continue to develop their support for smaller businesses. I also want to see more of these businesses taking advantage of what’s on offer, both from banks and alternative lenders, to help them grow, invest and create jobs for people.”