Lloyds Banking Group has promised to help thousands of small businesses in north west England become first time exporters.
Underpinning government efforts to help 100,000 UK firms export for the first time as part of the Exporting is Great campaign, the high street lender has pledged to support 5,000 of the region’s small businesses begin exporting in 2016, with the figure rising to a total of 25,000 by 2020.
In plans outlined in its 2016 SME charter, Lloyds Banking Group has committed to a £450m investment in digital technology over the next three years – introducing a new internet banking portal and an international trade portal, via which owners can learn how to identify exporting opportunities and operate overseas.
The group has trained over 300 staff across the UK in international trade and, together with UKTI, has developed a nationwide network of export specialists that can help with and advise on cross-border trade opportunities for small business customers.
Lloyds Banking Group SME banking managing director, Gareth Oakley, said: “Through this new pledge, we want to support a new legion of UK exporters, and ultimately to help the UK economy to prosper.
“Successful exporting is no mean feat – and that is why we are investing in both on-the-ground expertise and digital technology, in order to ensure that businesses have the backing they need to succeed. We have been working in partnership with UKTI for the past year, looking at ways to boost UK exports.”
The group will continue to work closely with UKTI, The British Business Bank (BBB) and UK Export Finance (UKEF) – the country’s export credit agency.
Amongst other pledges announced in this year’s charter, Lloyds also said it would help 100,000 startups get off the ground and at least 1,000 companies mature into established businesses with at least £1m in turnover by the end of 2016.
Net lending to small firms will increase by more than £1bn before the end of the year, the bank promised, and greater discretion will be given to local managers across the UK to renew loans of up to £1m and authorise new lending of up to £500,000.
To improve competitiveness and transparency in the SME lending market, Lloyds has also pledged to contribute to the £5m SME Innovation Challenge Prize, which encourages the growth of new comparison services and websites for country’s small businesses.
In response to the charter’s publication, minister for trade and investment Lord Price said that is was encouraging to see high street banks such as Lloyds contributing to the government’s export targets.
“By working together like this we can make sure British businesses up and down the country have the support they need to export their goods and services around the world, and that the UK remains a great trading nation,” said Price.
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