Santander to lend billions to UK businesses in 2011

Santander has agreed to deliver £6.7bn of gross new lending commitments to support UK businesses this year, following direct negotiations with the Government. Of this, almost £4bn will be used to support small to medium enterprises (SMEs). This represents an increase of 25% for SME lending and of 12% for its total business lending.

Commenting, Ana Botín, chief executive, Santander UK, said: "We are fully behind the government's growth agenda and focus on supporting SMEs. Our objective is to continue to increase the number of businesses we work with, and by doing so help create employment and growth in the UK.

"Santander will continue to increase its lending to SMEs and its market share, as it has done for the past two years. The bank has very much been ‘open for business' throughout the economic downturn, delivering £6bn in gross lending to UK businesses, including £3.2bn to SMEs, in 2010."

In addition to the support for UK businesses, Santander has provided £24bn of gross new lending, writing almost 1 in 5 of all mortgages in the UK in 2010.

Santander also intends to actively support the wider society through a series of measures designed to support local communities, education and entrepreneurs and is continuing to discuss how best to support this ambition with the government.

However, Santander does favour projects where it has direct involvement, which can be delivered under its own name, such as it has done with its Universities programme, where it already supports 45 Universities across the UK; and at Banesto in Spain, where it set up a series of regional equity funds for SMEs in conjunction with local authorities. Further details of the nature and level of this support will be announced in due course