Annual Report and Accounts 2021

Our Annual Report and Accounts reports on the performance of the Bank during the 2020/21 financial year.

Between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, the Bank increased its financial support to smaller businesses by more than £80bn, to nearly £89bn. This increase was largely due to the role the Bank played in delivering part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report covers the performance of the Bank’s core programmes during the year, as well as the Covid-19 emergency finance schemes.

It also sets out the Bank’s revised mission and new objective on net zero, reflecting the Bank’s commitment to playing an active role in driving a more sustainable economy.

Key highlights

The Bank’s performance against its six objectives in the last financial year was as follows:

  • Increasing the supply of finance to smaller businesses – The stock of finance supported through the Bank’s core finance programmes was £8.506bn at the end of March 2021. This was below its target of £9.085bn due to displacement of existing programmes by Covid-19 emergency finance schemes. These offered £80.4bn of finance to almost 1.7m businesses. This emergency support, which is not included under the Bank’s core programmes, was evenly distributed across the Nations and regions of the UK.
  • Helping create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses94.5% of the finance supported by the Bank’s core finance programmes in 2020/21 was delivered through smaller, newer or alternative finance providers, exceeding its 94.0% target.
  • Identifying and helping to reduce regional imbalances in access to finance – The Bank’s flow of gross deployment outside of London was £943m, over 8% above its target of £868m. The Bank announced 78 new delivery partners across its programmes, bringing the total number of providers it was working with to 218 at the end of March 2021.
  • Encouraging and enabling SMEs to seek the finance best suited to their needs – Prompted awareness of the Bank amongst SMEs surveyed was 25%, meeting the target set. 41% of SMEs surveyed said they would consider contacting the Bank for information about finance, marginally below the target of 42%.
  • Being the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to the Government – The Bank was independently assessed as having deployed its expertise to government effectively, ranging from advice on Covid-19 scheme development and delivery to fulfilling priorities on research and market engagement. The Bank published six major reports, including Alone, together: Entrepreneurship and diversity in the UK.
  • Achieving its other objectives while managing taxpayers’ money efficiently – The Bank achieved an adjusted return of 14.6%, significantly exceeding its 0.10% target. This was driven by the generally strong performance of equity finance markets in 2020/21.

Revised mission and new climate change objective

In this year’s report the Bank also announces a revised mission and a new climate change objective:

Revised mission

‘To drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the UK, and to enable the transition to a net zero economy, by improving access to finance for smaller businesses.’

New climate change objective

‘To support the UK’s transition to a net zero economy.’