This Government continue to act to ensure that viable small businesses are able to access the finance they need to assist them during the current economic downturn and to invest in the future. For example:
the Chancellor's Lending Panel of the major banks and Ministers monitors the flow of lending and recommends action to increase lending where necessary;
we have secured binding agreements to expand availability of credit with Lloyds Banking Group (£11 billion in net business lending) and Royal Bank of Scotland (£16 billion in net business lending) both over the 12 months from March 2009. In total, UK banks have made public lending commitments to increase lending by an additional £50 billion;
we have brought together the banks and small business representative bodies at the Small Business Finance Forum chaired by Peter Mandelson. The forum, which meets regularly, monitors the overall availability, sector impact and price of lending. We have found this to be a very useful real-time feedback mechanism;
we also launched the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) in January this year. Designed to lend to viable businesses at the margins of commercial lending, EFG continues to facilitate lending that would otherwise not be available. Latest figures show that over £706 million of eligible applications from 6,217 firms have been granted, or are being processed or assessed.