Funding Options has joined forces with digital bank Starling Bank to deliver business critical access to finance as SMEs across the UK rebuild following a turbulent year.
Starling Bank which has a 5% share of the UK SME market has become the latest member of SME finance marketplace Funding Options’ ever-growing lending panel, which now numbers in excess of 120 active lenders.
The partnership is very positive for the UK SME finance sector, with the challenger bank having issued more than £2billion of government-backed loans during the pandemic – with two-thirds of recipients outside London. It has ambitious plans to grow its SME account base more than four-fold to hold 18% of the UK market over the next five years.
Similarly active during the post-pandemic period, Funding Options has processed more than £850million of CBILS loans for SMEs across the UK over the last 12 months, leveraging its proprietary technology to match companies with suitable lending options in minutes.
To date, the finance platform has helped more than 10,000 SMEs in total access the funds they need, quickly and easily.
Helen Bierton, Chief Banking Officer at Starling Bank says: “By forming lending partnerships with credit brokers such as Funding Options, Starling is making it easier for small businesses to get access to the funds they need to survive, grow and flourish.”
Stuart Lawson, CRO at Funding Options said: “This partnership with Starling Bank is yet another strong signal to business owners that Funding Options will do everything to drive competition in the SME lending market and champion business growth by offering fair, cost-effective and competitive choice .”
The partnership comes after the UK government announced the “pay-as-you-grow” scheme in February which gave borrowers the option to tailor their payments according to their individual circumstances, allowing them to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half) and making interest-only payments for 6 months.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said “Businesses are continuing to feel the impact of extended disruption from covid-19, and we’re determined to give them the backing and confidence they need to get through the pandemic.
“That’s why we’re giving Bounce Back Loan borrowers breathing space to get back on their feet, through greater flexibility and time to repay their loans on their terms.”
Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options, responded by saying: “We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to give SMEs more breathing space to pay back the state-backed loans, as they navigate the obstacles this pandemic continues to present. Small businesses have shown unfaltering resilience in the face of adversity, persevering against all odds, but have nevertheless had to rely on government support too.
“As the government ramps up vaccinations, the long term focus must be to wean them off these schemes. The reality is that the longer this goes on, the more it will negatively impact on the delivery of a truly competitive lending market for SMEs. This repayment extension on government loans, moving to a pay-as-you-grow model, should help small businesses once a sense of trading normality resumes. At that point, unencumbered by the millstone of imminent debt repayments, they will need to be able to access growth funding as opposed to ‘survival funding’. And they will need an agile and diverse lending market to turn to as they invest once again.”
Helen Bierton also spoke on the matter saying, “We are in support of the pay-as-you-grow Bounce Back Loan Scheme facility which the Government has introduced. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy therefore it is important we make it as easy as possible for them to manage their cash flow, repay their loans on time and stay afloat.”