UK banks 'miss first half SME lending target'

5 August 2011

Banks in the UK have failed in their attempts to match a lending to small businesses target imposed by the government for the first half of the year.

Sky News reveals figures from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group show the five biggest lenders in Britain handed out just £37 billion in new credit to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) between January and June 2011.

It means their lending has fallen markedly short - by around £1 billion - of the £378 billion aim for the first six months of the year.

The agreement is part of Project Merlin - a deal signed between RBS, Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and Santander UK in February - which promised a total of £76 billion would be made available for lesser-scale firms across 2011.

According to sources with knowledge on the matter, Lloyds has so far lent around £6.8 billion to SMEs this year, while RBS - which has more than 40 million customers - has released around £15.5 billion.

By Claire Archer

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