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18 April 2016, 06:00
A bank has launched a £450 million fund to support smaller businesses in Scotland to help meet growing demand.
HSBC's lending fund is the largest support package the bank has announced for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland, up £50 million on last year.
The fund has been launched to meet growing SME demand across the country and is part of a broader package for smaller firms aimed at making banking cheaper and simpler.
The package includes a free banking offer of up to 18 months for start-ups and 12 months for switchers and the introduction of a year-long fixed-price £5.50 monthly account tariff, to commence at the end of a customer's initial free banking period.
Other benefits include an online tool offering potential new customers a credit decision in principle for loans of up to £30,000 in under two minutes and a free text alert service for informal overdrafts.
Susan Rowand, HSBC's head of business banking in Scotland, said: "We want to be the bank of choice for Scottish SMEs, reinforced through our desire to lend more to local businesses, by committing the funds to do so, and by making banking easier and cheaper to help our customers grow.
"There is a strong desire from ambitious local SMEs to grow their businesses and we are responding by ensuring HSBC is providing the funds they need to realise these ambitions.''
Small business minister Anna Soubry said: "We have a record number of small businesses driving our growing economy and while the picture is improving, access to finance remains an issue for many of them.
"It's absolutely right that banks such as HSBC continue to develop their support for smaller businesses.
"I also want to see more of these businesses taking advantage of what's on offer, both from banks and alternative lenders, to help them grow, invest and create jobs for people.''