Government agency UK Export Finance (UKEF) has started backing credit for SMEs involved in exports, as part of a partnership with five high street banks.
Starting October 16, SMEs who either export products themselves or supply companies which do will be able to get a government-backed guarantee when they apply for loans up to £2m through one of the partner banks.
The banks involved are Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS/Natwest and Santander. The partnership was first announced in July.
The application process for the government guarantee will be contextual to that for the loan, and it will be the banks who will liaise with UKEF through a dedicated digital platform.
Secretary of State for international trade, Liam Fox, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and giving them the support they need to seize international trading opportunities is a priority for the Department for International Trade as an international economic department.
“That’s why we’re partnering with the five major high street banks to make government-backed finance from UK Export Finance readily available, in a matter of seconds, opening up new global contracts to businesses across the UK.”
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Through our work with the Secretary of State for International Trade, I am delighted to see the Government’s plans to improve access to export finance.
“The success of the UK economy rests on helping more small businesses to export, and export more. FSB research shows 20 per cent of UK small firms already export, and with the right support this could double. Today’s announcement of faster and more readily available finance means more small businesses will be able to access growth markets around the world.
“Small firms’ contribution to the UK’s export market is of course not limited to those that sell products overseas. Our research highlights that one in six of all UK small businesses also form part of a supply chain of which the end product is exported, so opening up export finance to this group of firms is great news.”