The British Business Bank helps to drive economic growth by making finance markets work better for smaller businesses, wherever they are in the UK and wherever they are on their business journey, enabling them to prosper and grow.
In 2018/19 the British Business Bank began putting in place the enhanced infrastructure and processes required by a rapidly growing organisation, while at the same time delivering increased volumes and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses.
These smaller businesses are of huge importance to our economy: they provide the majority of private sector jobs and turnover, and they make up over 99% of the country’s business population.
From 1 April 2018, our Shareholder assigned the Bank two new objectives:
- to be the centre of expertise on smaller business finance in the UK, providing advice and support to the Government
- to identify and help reduce regional imbalances in access to finance for smaller businesses across the UK.
In the last financial year, we began to deliver against these objectives. This is detailed in our strategic report, which describes our programmes to increase finance – and awareness of finance options – in specific UK regions, our delivery of a number of cross-government programmes and a marked increase in our research and analysis.
As part of this, in February 2019 we published our VC & Female Founders report in partnership with the BVCA and Diversity VC, which identified specific barriers faced by female-led firms in accessing venture capital. Our coordination and convening of 45 VC firms to produce this ground-breaking research was a good illustration of how well placed we are to set the agenda and lead the conversation, in partnership with the finance industry.
Additional funding for delivery
Over the past year, the Government has demonstrated confidence in the British Business Bank’s capability to deliver for smaller businesses.
As well as an additional £200m of funding allocated to offset potential reductions in European funding to UK smaller businesses, we have been asked to support up to £1bn of smaller housebuilder finance, working alongside the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Homes England. The Government also committed to funding our Start Up Loans programme until 2021 at the 2018 Autumn Budget.
We launched a new subsidiary, British Patient Capital (BPC), in June 2018, with £2.5bn of funding and a mission to enable long-term investment in innovative UK companies so they become successful world-class businesses. We appointed the CEO of British Business Investments, Catherine Lewis La Torre, as CEO of BPC in October 2018, bringing both businesses under her leadership.
We responded to our expanding role and responsibilities by creating over 80 new roles and growing our colleague numbers to over 320. This rapid expansion has required us to upgrade our processes and infrastructure, and alongside that we have also developed a renewed focus on enabling our people to develop and grow along with the organisation.
We have continued the integration of the Start Up Loans Company following our merger in April 2017. This involved a greater sharing of resources, and consolidating our respective London operations from two offices into a single new premises in December 2018.
Caroline Green MBE stepped down as Non-executive Director in January 2019, and I would like to thank her for her valuable insights and contribution to the work of the Bank since 2013.
Five years on from the creation of the British Business Bank, we have built an organisation that is making a substantial difference to businesses across the UK. From the earliest stages – funding start-ups – through to providing the longer-term patient capital that businesses at the larger end of the SME scale require, we are playing a crucial part in enabling their growth and success.