Business lending to be extended

A lending scheme set up by the Government to boost the flow of credit to small businesses will be extended to '99.9 per cent' of all companies, the Chancellor announced today.

Unveiling the National loan Guarantee Scheme in March, George Osborne said up to £20bn in state-backed loans would be made available to businesses with a turnover less than £50m over a two-year period through participating banks.

The Chancellor told MPs today that 10,000 loans worth more than £1.5bn have been offered to businesses in the first three months and, after securing EU approval, the scheme would now be made available to businesses with a turnover less than £250m.

Earlier this month, the Chancellor and governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King unveiled a separate multibillion-pound lending scheme to stimulate economic growth - but ministers insisted the move was not a 'Plan B’.

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