Start Up Loans scheme provides over £600m to businesses outside London

The government’s Start Up Loans scheme has provided £600m to businesses outside London since its inception in 2012.

The funding — delivered by the British Business Bank subsidiary, Start Up Loans Company — have gone to a wide range of companies, including businesses making vegan bags in Yorkshire, bespoke wooden furniture in Northern Ireland, and rum cakes in the Lake District.

The North West received the most funding outside London, with over £94m delivered to entrepreneurs, followed by the South East with over £81m, and Yorkshire and The Humber with more than £68m.

The loan that tipped the scheme over the £600m mark was a £6,000 facility to Will Smith from Comber in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The borrower took out the loan to launch a bespoke wooden furniture company, Woodwork by Will, and invest in essential machinery and a table saw. 

“The support I have received from the British Business Bank has accelerated my business 12 months beyond where it would have been,” said Will.

“I found the whole process with the bank very straightforward and would have no hesitation in recommending Start Up Loans to other entrepreneurs. 

“The mentoring elements would particularly suit someone who is starting their own business but doesn’t necessarily have a business background. 

“I was offered mentoring from successful entrepreneurs on areas such as marketing, legal issues and insurance that kept me on the right track from the start.”

Overall, the Start Up Loans scheme has delivered more than 87,000 loans, providing more than £779m of funding across the UK — £137.2m of which was offered during the 2020/2021 financial year alone.

The latest figures show 40% of Start Up Loans have gone to women business leaders, 20% to people from an ethnic minority background, and around 35% to those who had previously been unemployed.

Small business minister, Paul Scully, commented: “There is so much creativity and dynamism across the UK but, without access to funding and support, it’s difficult to fully unlock the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great.

“The Start Up Loans programme has helped a diverse range of entrepreneurs across the UK to get their business ideas off the ground, levelling up the entire country and enabling talented business leaders from all backgrounds to flourish.”

Richard Bearman, managing director at Start Up Loans, added: “Providing £600m worth of funding to new businesses outside of London is a huge milestone for the government-backed Start Up Loans programme and reflects the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s small businesses at a grass roots level across the whole country.

“We have always been committed to providing support and funding to SMEs that hail from each corner of the country — particularly in areas of deprivation where people may struggle to access funding — and this milestone is tribute to that.

“We are proud that our loans, mentoring and support for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs is helping to support the Build Back Better agenda and we’re delighted to have been able to help Will make his dream a reality.”

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