AS part of Lloyds Banking Group’s national pledge to lend up to £18 billion to UK businesses in 2020, the group expects to support firms in the North-East with up to £700million of lending this year, highlighting its commitment to be by the side of British business whatever the future brings.

The funding is available to firms across the North-East and will support entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, micro-businesses seeking to scale-up and small businesses considering trading internationally for the first time.

It will also support established mid-sized businesses and large, multinational corporations seeking further growth.

This new lending commitment for 2020 follows on from the group’s pledge in 2019, also for £18billion lent nationally and £700million available to the region’s firms.

Despite the continuing challenging economic environment, the group is not lessening its backing for British businesses and is on hand to support their growth aspirations.

Part of that money saw Lloyds Bank support Seaham-based property developer, Clearwater Developments, with a six-figure funding package last year to transform a historic Sunderland school building into luxury apartments. The development will help the company to generate £2million in revenue.

Elyn Corfield, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for the North, said: “North-East businesses thrived last year while facing difficult trading conditions.

“Looking ahead to 2020, there’s lots for businesses to feel optimistic about.

“For example, commitments to the region from major employers like Amazon who are creating 1,000 jobs in County Durham alone, and generating knock-on opportunities for local firms and in the supply chain.

“We anticipate lending up to £700 million to businesses across the North-East this year, as they take advantage of the prospects ahead.”

During 2019, as well as supporting British businesses’ growth aspirations, the group assisted its customers in becoming more sustainable. The group is on course to meet its ambitions to support existing and new customers with energy efficiency improvements for a further one million square feet of commercial real estate as well as delivering renewable energy projects capable of powering 3.5 million homes by 2020.

To support customers on their sustainability journey, over 450 relationship managers have undertaken intensive training on climate change and sustainability-related risks and opportunities in collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership.

António Horta Osório, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group said: “In 2020, our commitment to supporting businesses is undiminished and we will lend up to £18bn to businesses across the UK. We know that during uncertain times our customers look to us not just for financial support but also for expert guidance to navigate the challenges they may face. Whatever the future brings, we will continue to support UK businesses as part of our commitment to help Britain prosper.”