A NOT-for-profit social enterprise has secured £7.5m to support more than 150 businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unity Trust Bank has given the loan to the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF), to help SMEs across the North-East and York.

BEF, an accredited lender of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, will use the money to provide average loan sizes of £45,000.

Chief executive Stephen Waud said: “The coronavirus outbreak presents unprecedented challenges to public health and SME businesses.

“We appreciate that business owners may be concerned about the impact on their businesses and would like to work with them through these unsettling circumstances. It’s times like this when our mission to support businesses and the communities they serve counts the most.

“We have been a customer of Unity Trust Bank for seven years and their support has always been invaluable, but now more so than ever. This funding package will make a real difference to business owners at this difficult time.”

Jason James, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank said: “Our vision is to help create a better society by working with a range of organisations that share our values.

“We support responsible finance lenders like BEF so they can deliver responsible, affordable lending to help small businesses which struggle to access finance from mainstream providers.

“As social enterprises they re-invest profits to deliver economic and social benefits to the communities they serve."