In its latest annual report, the British Business Bank has revealed it now supports more than 96,000 smaller businesses with £12.2bn of finance through its core programmes. Catherine Lewis La Torre, above, CEO, British Business Bank, said: “The British Business Bank has successfully delivered against the strategic priorities we set at the beginning of the year.
“We have increased our impact and market reach to smaller businesses across the UK’s regions and Nations and designed innovative programmes while at the same time generating an attractive return on capital employed. We have also made good progress on embedding our revised mission, with sustainable growth at its core, into everything we do.
“Despite this success over the last financial year, we are aware that areas of economic and geopolitical uncertainty remain. The serious headwinds that the economy is encountering make a national economic development bank an invaluable strategic asset, and we are ready and prepared to play whatever role is required to support UK smaller businesses.”
The Bank’s performance against its six objectives in the last financial year was as follows:
- Increasing the supply of finance to smaller businesses – The stock of finance supported through the Bank’s core finance programmes was £12.2bn at the end of March 2022, supporting more than 96,000 businesses.
- Helping create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses – The Bank continued to deploy the vast majority of finance in its core finance schemes outside of the largest UK banks, exceeding the target set. 98.4% of the Bank’s finance was provided outside the ‘Big Five’ banks.
- Identifying and helping to reduce regional imbalances in access to finance – The Bank exceeded its target through strong deployment of finance across the UK’s nations and regions by deploying £900m of finance and supporting almost 83,000 businesses outside London at the end of March 2022.
- Encouraging and enabling SMEs to seek the finance best suited to their needs – Prompted awareness of the Bank amongst small businesses surveyed in 2021/22 was 22%, a decrease of 3% from 2020/21, during which the Bank administered the high-profile Covid-19 loan guarantee schemes.
- Being the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to the Government – The Bank met its objective in deploying its expertise to the government effectively, ranging from engagement on the Spending Review and administering the Covid-19 response schemes to fulfilling priorities on research and market engagement. There were almost 17,000 downloads of the Bank’s research reports in 2021/22.
- Achieving its other objectives while managing taxpayers’ money efficiently – The Bank achieved an adjusted return of 18.2%, significantly exceeding its target.
Core programme highlights
- Our Regional Funds were allocated £1.6bn of funding in the 2021 Spending Review to extend our nations and regions investment funds across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the South West, North of England and Midlands.
- Our Enterprise Capital Funds had a successful year, committing around £208m in 2021/22. The programme’s 10-year rolling internal rate of return now stands at 27%.
- Our Regional Angels programme made six new commitments totalling £45m, to help reduce regional imbalances in access to seed and early-stage equity finance for smaller businesses across the UK.
- Our Start Up Loans programme was allocated a further three years of funding, which will deliver around 11,000 loans and continue to break down barriers to finance faced by entrepreneurs because of their ethnicity or gender.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, Chair of the British Business Bank, said: “We know that things remain tough for many smaller businesses as they work to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic so the importance of both financial and non-financial support for smaller businesses should not be underestimated. Supporting smaller businesses in challenging and uncertain times is absolutely what the British Business Bank is for. The flexibility designed into the way we operate means that our role in supporting their access to finance can adapt to the prevailing economic circumstances, and we stand ready to do what is needed in both good times and bad.”