Unsecured Loans to Business in the UK – Key Trends and Opportunities up to 2018

Date: 2015-09

“The lending to business industry is beginning to stabilize following the recession. The lending to business industry in the UK has recorded little signs of growth since 2011, but has somewhat stabilized since the financial crisis. Net lending to non-financial businesses declined by GBP109.5 billion from 2008 to 2009, while lending to Private Non-Financial Corporations (PNFCs) declined by just under 35% (in terms of annual change) between the start of both 2008 and 2010, which emphasizes the impact of the crisis.

The affordability of business loans has declined since 2009, when the Bank of England reduced interest rates to a record low of 0.5%. This has contributed to a sharp rise in repayments, as companies have been keen to pay off as much debt as possible before the rates rise − anticipated to be early 2015.

The government has made several attempts to reinvigorate business lending over the last couple of years, however, its projects have all missed their targets. The flagship Funding for Lending scheme declined short of its GBP80 billion target by GBP20 billion in 2012, while Project Merlin was GBP1.1 billion shy.

The rising of the emergency 0.5% bank rate is set to make attaining credit more expensive for banks and subsequently businesses. With banks already wary of lending to smaller businesses this may result in a decline in loan approvals, while businesses themselves are likely to be deterred by the prospect of more expensive loans.

Commercial retail estate lending is the largest market within the lending to business industry and was one of the main drivers of the UK’s 2008 financial crisis. Lending declined by just over GBP6.0 billion (in terms of net lending flows) from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2009, falling considerably more than any other market.

The industry is dominated by mainstream banks, with Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclay, HSBC and Santander controlling over 80% of the market. Regulations and high costs mean it is a difficult industry to enter, a situation that is unlikely to change in the immediate future.”

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