Making the Midlands the Heartbeat of the UK Economy

Mar 15, 2018 9:10 AM ET

In the week that the Midlands has found to be one of the best places in the UK to start and grow a business, Barclays has committed £370m to fund local businesses in the area. 

New research from Barclays has found that the Midlands is one of the most cost effective regions for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the UK to start. The Barclays Midlands Growth Fund is targeted at these SMEs and is designed to boost jobs and economic growth. The five-year initiative will work in tandem with the UK Government’s own £250m Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

Through the new Barclays fund, Midlands-based businesses will be eligible for:

  • Up to £250,000 Overdraft Limit for working capital secured by the Debenture and Personal Guarantees for Manufacturing clients*;
  • Cashflow funding to invest in acquisitions and organic business growth
  • Lending and debt support, which can be combined with the Government’s Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

Jes Staley, believes the launch further exemplifies Barclays commitment to the region, stating: “As a bank with Midlands roots stretching back over two centuries, Barclays is wholeheartedly committed to the success of this region. That is why I’m so proud to announce our new Midlands Growth Fund, to help businesses across the East and West Midlands, invest in jobs and growth. It is the entrepreneurs, the new tech firms, the small manufacturers, and the world-leading research and development companies, which will help the Midlands becomes a heartbeat of the UK economy – Barclays is keen to play its part to make that happen.”

Barclays now has a network of over 320 relationship managers, with expertise in their local markets and industry sectors, who are on hand to help businesses to grow. The bank also recently invested in the full purchase of its major employment site in Northampton, and employs large numbers of colleagues in Coventry, Leicester and at Birmingham Snow Hill.

Why the Midlands is the best place to start a new business

The new research further positions the Midlands as a favourable place for SMEs by highlighting that on average £597,277 is paid on annual rents – £43,670 less than the UK average (£640,947). In addition, nearly half of the Midlands-based respondents cited the region’s superior transport links as the top reason why they had built their business in the area; while two in five said they were based in the region because it offers the best commercial property rents in the UK.

Businesses also showed ample appetite for expansion plans this year. When asked what they would use extra capital for, 20% of Midlands-based SMEs said they would use the funds to diversify their business – compared to just 13% of similar sized businesses in the rest of the UK. 

Sajid Javid, Housing Secretary and Ministerial Champion for the Midlands Engine, said: “The Midlands Engine already boasts over 14 per cent of the UK’s high-growth businesses and its economy is worth more than £230bn – larger than countries like Denmark. We want to harness its huge potential and help give small firms across the Midlands that much needed boost to grow their business. Ensuring every part of the UK can play to its strengths and spread prosperity is central to our Industrial Strategy. This new fund from Barclays will help us generate jobs to benefit the Midlands and the British economy as a whole.”

* To fund eligible UK debtors, secured by a Debenture and Personal Guarantees for limited companies/LLP’s (or a Legal assignment of book debts for sole traders and partnerships)

Read more about the Barclays Midlands Growth Fund