2015 SME growth charter

We have made a new set of pledges to help support small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the coming year, in our latest SME charter.

The UK’s five million SMEs are the bedrock of our economy and as such it is their confidence and growth that will underpin the economic recovery as it continues during 2015. The new charter builds on the commitments first set out by Lloyds Banking Group in 2009, and is focused on helping SMEs seize opportunities for growth, as part of the Group’s stated aim of helping Britain prosper.

We want to ensure that the terms on which we lend to our SME customers are fair and clearly understood; that they have access to affordable finance; and that we are providing the right support to help these businesses grow.

Our commitments to all of our SME customers for the year ahead are:

  • Growing SME lending: We will continue to grow our net lending to SMEs by least £1 billion per year and by £3 billion net over the next three years.  Having grown our lending for five consecutive years, this pledge will help us maintain our growth, at a time when net lending across the banking industry as a whole continues to decline.
  • Making lending decisions locally: We continue to allow our most senior local managers to renew loans of up to £1 million and to approve new lending of up to £500,000 at their own discretion.  Lloyds Bank is one of the only banks that gives local discretion to its managers and the policy plays a crucial role in delivering a fast local service and growing the bank's lending across the UK.
  • Boosting support for exporters: We will increase our Trade financing facilities, used by businesses when exporting across the globe, by 25% in 2015.
  • Signposting alternative sources of finance: We will signpost start-up and micro businesses to community finance providers where they may be best able to help, and suitable growth businesses to equity providers including the Business Growth Fund and business angel networks.
  • Ensuring fair pricing: We will continue to cap our arrangement fees so that we charge a maximum of 1.5% subject to fixed minimum levels.
  • Switching: We have pledged up to £5 million towards an industry fund to improve digital services and comparison websites to help small businesses switch banks. This is to help improve the competitiveness and transparency of the SME banking market ensuring better choice and better customer outcomes.
  • Offering discounted lending: We will continue to use the Funding for Lending Scheme to ensure we offer competitive pricing to SMEs.
  • Responding fast to appeals: We will respond to appeals on lending decisions faster than the industry as a whole and we will provide goodwill payments for any cases overturned. We commit to looking at 90% of appeals cases within 15 working days and we have led the industry in our approach to appeals, for example by recruiting a dedicated appeals manager.
  • Growth: We will support 1,000 start-ups in 2015 to mature into established £1m business within three years.
  • Resilience – By 2020 we will aim to help 10,000 businesses to manage their risks and opportunities in relation to sustainability and the environment. By using our online ‘sustainability’ portal, businesses can create a sustainability action plan and environmental policy to drive change and growth within their business.
  • Investing in digital: We are investing £1 billion across the Group to deliver simple and efficient digital products and improved services for our SME customers, giving them more ways to bank with us. This includes making improvements to our successful Mobile Banking App and launching a new online banking channel to support SME customers as they grow their business. We are also hosting a series of regional events to improve digital skills for small businesses as part of our work with Go ON UK – the digital skills charity.
  • Helping start-ups: Having helped over 100,000 start-ups in 2014, we will continue to help more start-ups get off the ground, drawing on the expertise of our local business managers across the UK, their local business networks, and our dedicated recruitment centre.
  • Turning around businesses in difficulty: We will continue to work with customers whose businesses are in difficulty to bring them back to financial health. We have a track record of turning around 70% of those supported by our Business Support Unit and we will strive to maintain or exceed this turnaround rate.
  • Providing access to mentors: We will aim to expand our 400-strong network of enterprise mentors across Britain by recruitment and training through the Business Finance Taskforce accredited scheme, to offer wider business support to new and established SMEs including community and social enterprises.

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