British Business Bank managing £89bn of finance support to 1.77m businesses, up from £8bn in 2020, with an above target adjusted return of 14.6%

Press release 21 September 2021

Throughout 2020/21, in response to the pandemic the British Business Bank performed a role vital to the UK government, finance markets and the economy as a whole. Our financial support to smaller businesses has increased by more than £80bn during the last financial year, and now stands at nearly £89bn. We look forward to using our unique position in the market to support businesses further as they recover and return to growth once more, thereby rebuilding the foundations of the UK’s future prosperity. Catherine Lewis La Torre CEO, British Business Bank

The British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank, today publishes its 2021 Annual Report and Accounts.

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 businesses5% 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 6%, significantly exceeding its 0.10% target. This was driven by the generally strong performance of equity finance markets in 2020/21.

Core programme highlights

  • The Start Up Loans programme had a record year, providing over 11,000 loans – a year-on-year increase of over 30%
  • The Bank’s regional funds – the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Funds – provided a £357m flow of finance into their regional finance markets in 2020/21.
  • The Regional Angels and Enterprise Capital Funds programmes made combined total commitments of £100m to support seed and early stage equity funding for high-growth businesses.

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.’

These changes reflect the Bank’s commitment to playing an active role in driving a more sustainable economy.

Our job now is to help businesses during the recovery period and beyond, strengthening the economy in the process. The British Business Bank is emerging from the pandemic more resilient and capable than ever, ready and willing to help more UK businesses to prosper and grow sustainably. Lord Smith of Kelvin Chair of the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank Annual Report and Accounts 2020/2021 are available to download via our Annual Report and Accounts 2020/2021 page.

Notes to editors

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is 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. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank’s core programmes support over £8.5bn[1] of finance to almost 95,000 smaller businesses[2]. Between March 2020 and March 2021, the British Business Bank was responsible for running the government’s Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering £80.4bn of finance to 1.67m businesses.

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. In light of the coronavirus pandemic and EU Exit, the Finance Hub has expanded and it now targets a wider business audience. It continues to provide information and support for scale-up, high growth and potential high growth businesses, but now provides increased content, information and products for businesses in survival and recovery mindsets. The Finance Hub has been redesigned and repositioned to reflect this, during this period of economic uncertainty.

British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. It is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for the group can be found at