Sharing the voice of British small businesses

We wanted to make the views of British businesses heard, so we asked thousands of you for your thoughts on the year ahead. In the space of four days, more than 2,300 of you told us about your investment intentions, turnover expectations and also your position on the upcoming general election.

What we discovered is that small businesses are going for growth, unfazed by the uncertainty caused by last year’s referendum result and the snap election. Nearly 70% of UK small businesses expect their turnover to increase within the next 12 months – half of whom expect a steady increase of between 6 and 20%, and only 6% expect turnover to decrease.

Small businesses, who already account for 60% of private sector employment, will continue to drive much needed job creation this year. More than half of the businesses we spoke to are planning to hire at least one new full-time member of staff over the next year. With more than 5 million small businesses across the country – this could mean the creation of millions of new jobs in the next 12 months!

Ahead of the election, small business owners told us that they’re three times more likely to vote for the Conservative Party over the Labour Party. In total, 41% said that they plan on voting Conservative, whilst 13% said Labour and 9% said they intended to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Support for the Conservatives comes despite 49% saying they voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum, demonstrating a level of confidence in the party to deliver Brexit regardless of how business owners voted in the referendum.

When asked what their one policy priority is in the run up to the election, tax was by far the most important issue. With business rates mentioned specifically nearly 300 times, 40% said that they want the new Government to focus on this area after the election. The second most important policy area, according to a quarter of businesses, was of course Brexit.

Investors at Funding Circle include 60,000 individuals, local and national government, the European Investment Bank and financial institutions such as pension funds. By opening up small business lending to a wide range of investors, Funding Circle has improved competition in the market, supported job creation and reduced small business dependency on bank lending.

To date investors have lent £2.2 billion to more than 23,000 UK small businesses. Businesses funded through the platform typically access the capital they need in seven days, and independent research found that 94% of businesses would come back to Funding Circle first in future.

 

If you’re a small business looking for finance, visit our website to check if you qualify in just 30 seconds.

British Business Bank lends further £40m to small businesses

The government-owned British Business Bank will today begin lending a further £40 million directly to small businesses through the Funding Circle platform. This follows an initial £40 million investment by the British Business Bank in 2014, and a £20 million investment made by the UK government in 2013 through the Business Finance Partnership.

The British Business Bank aims to support economic growth by increasing choice of finance for small and medium sized businesses. Over 10,000 businesses have benefited from the combined £60 million in lending to date, supporting the creation of an estimated 30,000 jobs*. Since March 2013 over £5 million in interest, after fees and bad debt, has been earned on behalf of the UK taxpayer.

Before we launched in 2010, small businesses were reliant on a small number of high street banks for finance. Over the past six years, a diverse range of investors have for the first time been able to lend directly to these businesses.

The British Business Bank is lending alongside 55,000 people, local councils, financial institutions and the European Investment Bank. To date, you have lent over £1.7 billion to more than 18,000 UK small businesses, providing a £2.7 billion boost to the UK economy.* This new commitment is recognition of the success of the programme to date, and the role investors lending through Funding Circle are playing in supporting the backbone of the British economy.

How will the British Business Bank lend on the platform?

The British Business Bank will continue to lend directly through the partial loan marketplace to UK businesses that meet their lending criteria. The bank will lend on the same terms as other investors in the loan.

Over the past few months you have lent to a record-breaking number of small businesses, with over £300 million lent in the last quarter of 2016. We expect 2017 to be another year of growth, with significantly more lending opportunities for investors than in previous years. To help meet this demand, the British Business Bank will increase the proportion they lend to each eligible business from 10% to 20% ‒ similar to when the UK government first began lending through Funding Circle through the Business Finance Partnership. This will allow more loans to be listed to the partial loan marketplace, resulting in a wider range of businesses for you to lend to and to diversify across.

The proportion the British Business Bank lends on each eligible loan may change in future, however it will not exceed 20% of any one loan. You can read more about the British Business Bank’s involvement in our FAQs.

If you have any questions about today’s news, please get in touch.

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

* Source: ‘Small Business, Big Impact’ research, Cebr, 2016

Update on the Funding Circle ISA

Following our last update in April, we wanted to keep you up to date on our progress towards launching the Funding Circle ISA.

As you may know, in order to launch an Innovative Finance ISA, all peer-to-peer lending platforms are required to be fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We have been operating under interim permission since April 2014, and we continue to work closely with the FCA. Although significant progress has been made, it is important that the FCA completes this process in a thorough manner.

Therefore, we do not yet have a date for when the Funding Circle ISA will be available, however as soon as we do, we will let you all know.

Other ways to earn tax-efficient returns

In the meantime, if you are looking for tax-efficient returns you could consider the following:

  • The current tax year ends on 5 April 2017, so there is still plenty of time to take advantage before the subscription deadline. You can also open a Cash or Stocks & Shares ISA elsewhere and transfer it over to the Funding Circle ISA when it becomes available.
  • If you are based in the UK, you can earn tax-free returns by holding shares in the Funding Circle SME Income Fund through either a Stocks & Shares ISA or Self-Invested Personal Pension. Speak to your financial adviser for more information.
  • Thanks to the new Personal Savings Allowance introduced by the Chancellor last year, the first £1,000 of interest earned for basic rate taxpayers and the first £500 of interest for higher rate taxpayers is now free of income tax. The Personal Savings Allowance is not available for additional rate taxpayers. This applies to interest earned through Funding Circle as well as through other traditional savings accounts. More information, including a link to the full guidance from HMRC, can be found in our F.A.Q
  • If you are lending as an individual, a new bad debt relief is also available through peer-to-peer lending platforms for loans that have become irrecoverable. The tax statement available to you has been updated to reflect these changes, and more information can be found in our F.A.Q.

Remember, by lending through Funding Circle or investing in the Funding Circle SME Income Fund your capital is at risk.

We hope this update has been useful, however if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help

Enjoy lending,

The Funding Circle team

 

*This blog post is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be construed as an offer, invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity in relation to – or a financial promotion of – Funding Circle SME Income Fund. Funding Circle does not give investment advice or recommendations and this blog post should not be relied upon as such*

Chancellor introduces new bad debt relief for lending through Funding Circle

One of the main questions investors have asked us over the last four years is what more can be done to encourage the Government to introduce tax incentives for investors, specifically the introduction of peer-to-peer lending into ISAs and income tax relief on loans

As many of you will know, following our campaign the Government announced in March plans for marketplace lending to be included within an ISA wrapper; and this week’s Autumn Statement delivered another significant announcement for all individual investors.

The Chancellor confirmed plans for the introduction of a new bad debt relief for individuals lending through marketplaces like Funding Circle. This means that losses incurred by lending through Funding Circle will be offset against income tax rather than capital gains tax. This relief is expected to be effective from April 2015.

This is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Government for the industry and something we have been campaigning on for four years. It is supported by both Labour and the coalition Government and, alongside the ISA introduction, will help create a much fairer tax system for individuals engaged in marketplace lending.

Depending on your individual tax situation, by April next year we estimate individuals will be able to to earn up to 25% more as a result of these changes – and potentially significantly higher depending on your personal  investment strategy. Overall this is a win-win for Funding Circle investors and businesses and we expect it will have a hugely positive impact on the wider industry.

The Funding Circle team