Barclays to help UK SMEs unlock £34bn opportunity

Posted on 6 Jan 2017 by Jonny Williamson

With a reported £34bn economic opportunity waiting to be unlocked from Britain’s SMEs by 2021, Barclays has launched a mobile business lending service capable of providing instant loans to businesses.

Though almost a third of British SMEs are reportedly not planning on applying for a loan despite acknowledging it would boost their business, new research from Barclays found that 64% of SMEs’ turnover would increase if they successfully secured the right loan, which could generate nearly 200,000 new jobs for Britain over the next four years.

In response, Barclays has created mobile loans for businesses, making SME loans and overdrafts instantly available to its client base through the Barclays Mobile Banking app. Barclays is the first UK bank to offer the service, which radically reduces the time taken to get a loan from a matter of weeks to under an hour.

The research found that:

  • 30% of SMEs have decided not to apply for a loan despite thinking it would boost their business.  The figure rises to 39% for small businesses specifically.
  • SMEs who have applied for funding expect the lending process to take at least five weeks, whereas for many the funds are now available on their mobile, pre-assessed, so they can access funding within one hour.
  • Removing the myth that banks don’t want to lend by making loans and overdrafts available instantly on smartphones could deliver an economic boost of 106 new jobs per day (+194,000 jobs by 2021) and £34.25bn of economic growth by 2021.
  • In terms of the impact of new loans, manufacturing and professional services sectors should expect to benefit from the biggest economic boost by 2021, achieving an additional £1.18bn and £1.11bn each year, respectively.
  • Business owners in Yorkshire and Humberside are the most concerned, of any region, about getting their applications right when applying for funding in the future.

CEO of Business Banking at Barclays, Ian Rand commented: “We recognise that some businesses are cautious about applying for a loan, while many more simply do not have the time. Our new, pre-assessed lending gives customers the ability to see how much they could borrow on their mobile and we can get that money to them more quickly than ever so they can invest in and focus on running their businesses.”

Brexit presents new reasons to lend

The research also found that one in five SMEs believe Brexit is impacting their current or future funding requirements. Of those, the most common reasons cited were a need to start exporting to new, non-EU markets, Brexit economic uncertainty and a need to replace current employees who are EU citizens. A further one in ten (12%) SMEs did not know whether they would be impacted by Brexit.

However, a quarter (24%) of SMEs believe it will be harder to secure a loan in 2017, with Brexit causing ‘economic/political uncertainty’ and ‘global economic uncertainty cited as the main reasons.

Rand continued: “Since the EU Referendum our appetite for lending has not diminished and we continue to lend to an SME in the UK every four minutes. We want to help SMEs be confident in their future business plans, including looking at new opportunities to export. We are particularly determined to reach out to those businesses who believe lending will be more difficult next year to see where we can help.”