British Business Bank supporting over 98,000 businesses with £8bn of finance, an increase of 21% over the year

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO, British Business Bank, said:

“The Bank and our role within the UK economy has been thrown into sharp relief as we continue to work as a trusted partner of government to create the conditions for improved access to finance that will enable smaller businesses to stabilise, prosper and grow.

The results reported in this set of accounts, which include our support for £8bn of finance to 98,000 businesses, demonstrate that we continue to deliver value for money to the taxpayer.”

The British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank, today publishes its 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, this being its sixth year of operation.

Key highlights

In the last financial year, the Bank achieved the following across its six objectives:

  • Increasing the supply of finance to smaller businesses– The stock of finance supported through the Bank’s programmes was £8bn at the end of March 2020, an increase of 21% from £6.6bn in March 2019.
  • Helping create a more diverse finance market for smaller businesses – 93% of the finance supported by the Bank in 2019/20 was delivered through smaller, newer or alternative finance providers. The Bank announced 12 new delivery partners across its programmes, bringing the total number of providers it was working with to more than 140 at the end of March 2020.
  • Identifying and helping to reduce regional imbalances in access to finance – The Bank’s regional funds have made a total of £436m of investments. The number of smaller businesses outside London benefiting from the Bank’s programmes increased to 83,000, up from 75,000 at the end of 2018/19.
  • Encouraging and enabling SMEs to seek the finance best suited to their needs– There was a 21% increase in the number of visitors to the Bank’s online Finance Hub, with 205,000 visits, compared to 168,000 in 2018/19. Nearly a quarter (24%) of smaller businesses that might seek finance were aware of the British Business Bank, up from one fifth (20%) in 2018/19.
  • Being the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to the Government – The Bank published five major reports, including Analysis of UK Venture Capital Financial Returns and the case for The Future of Defined Contribution Pensions. There were 23,000 downloads of British Business Bank reports over the year.
  • Achieving its other objectives while managing taxpayers’ money efficiently – Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bank was on track to achieve its targeted adjusted return on average capital employed of 2.13%. Due to the impact of Q4 2019/20 valuation adjustments and additional expected credit loss provisions, the final return for the year was 1.20%. The National Audit Office reported in January 2020 that the Bank was ‘performing well’ and that smaller businesses were growing as a result of its activities.

Main programme highlights

  • The two subsidiaries making up our commercial arm, British Business Investments and British Patient Capital, made a record level of commitments, totalling £952m over the year.
  • We launched ENABLE Build in May 2019 – a new programme to help fund smaller housebuilders
  • Our flagship Enterprise Finance Guarantee expanded, enabling support for a wider variety of finance through asset finance and asset-based lenders
  • Our Start Up Loans programme passed a major milestone in June 2019, with £500m lent since its inception in 2012.

Lord Smith of Kelvin, Chair of the British Business Bank, said: “We expect the British Business Bank to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. We stand ready, willing and able to do what is needed to help address whatever challenges lie ahead.”

Find out more on the British Business Bank Annual Report and Accounts 2019/20 


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 make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. 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 programmes were supporting £8bn of finance to over 98,000 smaller businesses at end of March 2020. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering tens of billions of pounds of finance to over a million 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 Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at
  • The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The site also features case studies and lessons from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised or regulated by the FCA or the PRA.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.