Figures from the British Business Bank show that 45% of small businesses applied for external financial support in 2020, which compares to just 13% in 2019. The bank’s latest Small Business Finance Markets report also shows that gross bank lending (excluding overdrafts) to SMEs rose to £104bn in 2020 as a result of the government loan schemes - an 82% rise compared to 2019. Looking ahead, some 37% of smaller businesses anticipate they will stay the same size in 2021 while 33% expect to shrink, and 4% to sell or to close. Some 21% are expecting to grow, compared to 28% the previous year. SMEs in business services (25%) and production (23%) sectors were most optimistic about their prospects for growth over the next year, with those in construction and other services sectors least optimistic (both 17%).
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