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Natwest increases small business loan programme amid Brexit uncertainty

City AM logo City AM 22/04/2019 Harry Robertson
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Natwest will double its growth funding programme for small and medium-sized British businesses, citing the need to help them navigate Brexit disruption.

Read more: Government provides £200m for small firms as Brexit threatens EU funding

The UK bank’s growth funding loan pot, which was started in May 2018, will be immediately doubled to £6bn in the latest sign that companies are demanding resources to cope with political impasse and that banks and investors can cash in by helping them.

The money will be available immediately and will help businesses looking to grow, fund green initiatives and navigate the current uncertain business climate, Natwest said.

Last week the government announced it had handed over £200m to help support smaller businesses in the 2019-20 financial year as the future of European Union funding remains uncertain.

The Treasury made the cash available to the British Business Bank, a public-private partnership which provides loans to small companies looking to increase in size through investment and venture capital firms.

The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said at the time: “With Brexit on the horizon, serious questions regarding future funding for a UK small business support network that’s heavily reliant on the EU remain unanswered.”

Natwest figures released today showed that £2.9bn of its already-expanded £3bn growth funding pot had been approved for investment.

The bank said it would increasingly focus on financing eco-friendly projects and intellectual property.

Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at Natwest, said: “We are working every day to look at what businesses need to not just survive, but grow. In many cases this is bespoke funding.”

Read more: Natwest's fingerprint payments let you override £30 contactless limit

Referencing Brexit, she said: “We recognise that the challenges businesses face evolve all the time, which is why we try to innovate whenever we can.”

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