British Business Bank, the Government economic development bank, increased support for start-ups and smaller businesses by over a quarter in the past year.
It has supported over 89,000 businesses in the UK with £6.6bn of finance in 2018-19, an increase of 27pc from £5.2bn the previous year, according to its annual report.
Over 90pc of the finance was delivered through smaller, newer or alternative finance providers. The bank announced 13 new delivery partners across its programmes during this period, lifting the total number of providers it works with to more than 130.
Almost half of the £6.6bn involved providing capital to SME lenders, a third consisted of equity placed with venture capital fuinds, and the rest spent by the BBB guaranteeing borrowing by businesses.
Indeed, the BBB has become one of the largest investors in venture capital funds. Unicorn companies that the BBB has backed through VCs include Revolut, Graphcore and TransferWise.
Meanwhile, the bank’s regional development funds, aimed at levelling the playing field for access to finance, now support more than £240m of funding.
The bank made a pre-tax profit of £81.3m over the period.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, chairman of the British Business Bank, said: “Smaller businesses are of huge importance to the UK economy, and this report shows the British Business Bank is playing a crucial part in their growth and success.”
Keith Morgan, chief executive of the BBB, told the Financial Times that he would speak to the Government about securing extra funds to make good shortfalls once the UK has left the European Union. Many funding programmes are supported by EU money. Morgan added that the BBB would be ready to provide increased support to British companies should there be an economic downturn.