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Loan Guarantee Scheme Launched

The National Loan Guarantee Scheme has been launched this week by Chancellor George Osborne, with four high street banks signing up to provide assistance and support for SMEs.

The scheme will provide cheaper funding for SMEs who sign up, due to lower interest rates.

£20bn is to be invested into the scheme, and the news has been greeted with a mixture of praise and tentativeness.

George Osbourne told the BBC ‘The government promised to help small businesses get access to lower interest rates. Today we deliver on that promise with a nationwide scheme’.

Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth has said that ‘while credit easing is a step in the right direction, it is not a panacea for all the problems faced by businesses trying to access finance’.

One notable absentee from the list of banks that have signed up for the scheme is HSBC, who have cited its inability to participate on ‘commercially viable terms’.

The National Loan Guarantee Scheme’s official website has outlined the scheme as follows:

  • The scheme allows banks to raise up to £20bn of funding guaranteed
by the Government, to lend directly to smaller businesses (who are more
reliant on bank finance) at a lower cost than would otherwise be the case.
  • UK businesses with a turnover of up to £50m will be eligible to benefit
from the scheme.
  • Banks apply for Government guarantees against the borrowing within a 2 year
window for a fee. They can use the guarantee to raise funds at a lower cost.
  • In order to qualify for the guarantees, banks will demonstrate that they
can pass the benefits of the guarantee through to cheaper loans (as in the
European Investment Bank’s (EIB) well-established ‘Loans for SMEs’ scheme).
  • Participating banks retain the full credit risk of the loans they make
under the scheme.
  • In many cases the scheme will lead to a reduction in the cost of
business loans of up to 1 percentage point.

More details can be found on the National Loan Guarantee Scheme’s website.

By Sean Dudley

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