Barclays launches £15bn fund to help small business through Brexit

Fund will offer loans, mortgages and overdrafts of up to £250,000 to SMEs, as well as cash flow and growth funding

Barclays has announced a £14.7 billion lending fund to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) negotiate Brexit and beyond.

The Barclays Brexit fund, which is a three-year commitment, will offer the following:

– Business loans, commercial mortgages and overdrafts up to £250,000 working capital

– Cash flow funding for investment in growth, management buy-outs and business acquisition

– 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, which is designed to promote lending to small business by offering guarantees supported by the British Business Bank.

Businesses with turnover of up to £25 million will be eligible to borrow from the £15 billion debt fund.

In addition, Barclays will be running over 100 SME Brexit clinic and seminars across the country. Seminars will help SMEs think about managing cash-flow and working capital, exporting goods abroad, labour, supply chain management, and broader issues of preparedness.

Barclays group CEO Jes Staley said: “Barclays stands ready to help local businesses in towns, cities and rural communities, up and down the country, during this period of uncertainty. 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 – we are here to help them plan for the future and invest for growth.”

“It is the entrepreneurs, the farmers, the manufacturers, the house-builders, the new tech firms and countless other businesses, that will help the country deal with – and capitalise on – this period of change. Barclays is here to help SMEs to do exactly that.”

Small business backs ‘Common Market 2.0’

Meanwhile, six out of 10 small businesses want MPs to back a Brexit deal that would see the UK closely aligned to the EU’s single market in goods and services, according to a survey by the Institute of Directors.

In a poll of its members, the lobby group found that 58 per cent of small business directors want to keep the UK aligned in goods, while 60 per cent want the UK in lockstep on services.

Fifty-six per cent of small business directors said that any Brexit deal had to ensure the UK could align its tariffs with those of the EU.

The survey of nearly 1,400 IOD members, conducted between March 14 and 21, comes as MPs start voting today (Wednesday) on a range of alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

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

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, 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 today, 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.”