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Barclays launches £14.7bn Brexit fund for SMEs

Barclays announced that it will lend a total of £14.7 billion to UK small businesses over the next three years to help them in the period following the country’s departure from the European Union (EU).

The UK-wide fund is a three-year commitment made up of £11.3 billion from Barclays Bank UK plc and £3.4 billion from Barclays Bank plc.

The ‘Brexit support package’ is targeted at UK businesses will annual turnover of up to £25 million and will include:

  • Business loans, commercial mortgages and overdrafts up to £250,000 working capital.
  • Cash flow funding for investment in growth, management buy-outs and business acquisitions.
  • Loans for innovative businesses looking for growth funding, capital and environmental investment.

The fund will take advantage of the government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee programme, designed to promote lending to small business by offering guarantees supported by the state-owned British Business Bank, launched by the government in November 2014.

Brexit clinics

In addition to loans, the support package extends to more than 100 SME Brexit clinics and seminars run in local communities across the UK; and an established network of on-the-ground relationship management experts and industry specialists, based across the UK.

Barclays said the initiatives are designed to help SMEs consider managing cash-flow and working capital, exporting goods abroad, labour, supply chain management, and broader issues of preparedness.

“Barclays stands ready to help local businesses in towns, cities and rural communities, up and down the country, during this period of uncertainty,” said Jes Staley, group CEO at Barclays. said: “Today’s £14 billion fund, along with our broader package of support, shows our commitment to the local businesses that are the backbone of the UK economy.

“It is the entrepreneurs…the manufacturers…the new tech firms, and countless other businesses, that will help the country deal with – and capitalise on – this period of change.”

Glynn Richards, managing director of partitions and movable walls supplier AEG Teachwall, which imports aluminium and specialist engineering parts from China, commented: “Despite some broader economic uncertainty, we’re keen to invest in new machinery in our main factory to keep on growing our business. With Barclays’ support on this front, I feel that we can invest with confidence, hire more people and hopefully expand.”

IoD poll

Separately, a poll conducted by UK business organisation the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that six out of 10 small businesses want members of parliament to back a Brexit deal that would see the UK closely aligned to the EU’s single market in goods and services

In its survey of nearly 1,400 IoD members, the lobby group found that 58% of SME directors want to keep the UK aligned in goods, while 60% want the UK in lockstep on services and 56%said that any Brexit deal had to ensure the UK could align its tariffs with those of the EU.

Businesses overall are more divided on the length of time of any extension period, with 50% favouring a shorter extension of up to three months, against 40% backing a longer period of at least nine months.

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the IoD, said: “The decisions that Parliament faces this week cannot be ducked. There are no simple choices, only trade-offs. Conflicting views among MPs are understandable, and business does not have a unanimous view either, but now is the moment to accept that every course of action creates both risks and opportunities.

“When our political leaders convene in Westminster, they must be prepared to compromise. While our members may be split on the question of another referendum, the preference for alignment to secure continued access after Brexit is clearer to see.”

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