Finance · 10 June 2016

Barclays announces £500m boost to Scotland’s small firms

The fund will see Barclays double its commitments to smaller firms in Scotland

The high street lender has announced plans for a new £500m fund to support small business owners in Scotland, following the launch of a similar £450m fund in the country by rival bank HSBC in April 2016.

The intended fund will see Barclays double its commitments to give smaller firms in Scotland a boost, having previously invested £500m in a similar fund.

The fund will play a key role in the bank’s expansion strategy in the country. In a statement, Barclays Scotland head of business and corporate banking Jamie Grant said: “We believe we are equipped to help even more business owners realise their ambitions.

“We have a strong history of building relationships with many of the country’s leading companies while our global reach means we have the knowledge and expertise to help Scotland’s firms compete.”

Scotland’s economy minister Keith Brown welcomed the announcement, saying that access to further funding was critical for smaller firms and will help boost the economy. He added: “This is positive news and will be a real boost for Scotland’s small businesses, which are the lifeblood of the economy.

“I hope many businesses can benefit from today’s announcement from Barclays. Scotland is already a great place to do business, but the Scottish government is determined to maintain a strongly competitive business environment and ensure the conditions are right for smaller firms to flourish.”

Figures released late last year revealed the extent to which entrepreneurship is thriving in Scotland. The number of companies operating north of the border reached an all-time high in 2015, with the fastest rate of growth experienced amongst small firms.

There were nearly 360,000 SMEs in Scotland, providing 1.2m jobs, last year. These firms accounted for 99.4 per cent of all private sector enterprises in the country.

Indicating a commitment to enterprise and developing new firms, the University of Edinburgh announced it formed a record number of companies in 2015, bringing the total to 184 in five years. As such, the Scottish capital is emerging as one of the country’s fastest growing enterprise hubs.

Commenting on Barclays’ new fund, Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: “This investment by Barclays is fantastic news.

“Access to funding is absolutely critical to enabling small businesses to thrive, supporting them to invest in innovation, workforce development and international activity.”

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

High Streets Initiative