The government’s Bank Referral Scheme was launched in November 2016. The scheme, created by the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, is designed to help improve SME access to finance and competition in the SME lending market.
The bank referral scheme imposes a statutory duty on nine of the UK’s biggest banks to pass on the details of small businesses, who have been unsuccessful in applying for finance to three Government designated alternative finance platforms.
The three finance platforms are the Alternative Business Funding, Funding Options and Funding Xchange. These platforms are, in turn, required to share their details with other alternative finance providers to help small businesses access much needed finance not available from mainstream banks.
New figures published by HM Treasury have revealed that in the period from 1 November 2016 to 30 June 2018, nearly 19,000 small businesses who were rejected for finance from one of the big banks have been referred under the scheme. Of these, over 900 businesses went on to secure more than £15m of funding with an average value of £17,285.