British Business Bank takes on expanded role with two new objectives

Press release 04 May 2018

The British Business Bank, the UK government’s economic development bank, has been asked to build further on its mission to make finance markets work better for smaller UK businesses.

Since November 2014, when the Bank was formed, it has consistently delivered against its four key objectives:

  • To increase the supply of finance to smaller businesses where markets don’t work well.
  • To help create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses, with greater choice of options and provider.
  • To promote better information in the market, building confidence among SMEs in their understanding of the finance options available to them.
  • To achieve the Bank’s other objectives whilst managing taxpayers’ money efficiently within a robust risk management framework.

From the start of financial year 2018/19, the Bank has additionally been tasked with:

  • identifying and helping to reduce imbalances in access to finance for smaller businesses across the UK
  • being the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to Government.

This new arrangement formalises the targeting and measurement of some of the work in which the Bank is already involved.

In the regions, the Bank has collaborated with Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop and run the £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and the £250m Midlands Engine Investment Fund. The Bank also produces its own well-respected and widely-used research, such as its annual Small Business Finance Markets Report and Equity Tracker, and works with other bodies to produce valuable analyses of many aspects of UK SME finance markets.

Over the coming year, new initiatives for the Bank related to its new objectives will include a £40m Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund, a fund to support the development of regional angel clusters, and a new Regional Manager Network to improve regional access to finance. The Bank will also be undertaking a programme of new research, including undertaking behavioural research into how to overcome the specific barriers faced by female-led firms in accessing venture capital and exploring, with HM Treasury, how innovative firms with Intellectual Property might use it as security to help them raise finance.

The Bank’s third existing objective is also being revised. To focus more on the Bank’s role in promoting behavioural change amongst smaller businesses, it will become: ‘To encourage and enable SMEs to seek the finance best suited to their needs.’