Gross lending to SMEs in the first three quarters of 2020 hit £54m, more than double the annual total for 2019, according to UK Finance. The value of lending in the second and third quarters was £36bn higher than during the same period of 2019, driven by continued uptake of government-backed support. Loan approval volumes, across both government schemes and commercial lending, for all industries increased through those quarters, with retail, hospitality, travel, tourism and construction receiving particularly high levels of support due to the scale of the pandemic impact. Approval volumes exceeded 150,000 for construction and retail in the period, and 200,000 for the professional and support services sector. In previous quarters, all industries averaged fewer than 20,000 approvals. With the focus of businesses firmly fixed on short-term replacement or preservation of trading cashflow, utilisation of overdraft facilities dropped from 54% in the first quarter to 39% in the third.
Read more: The Times
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