The Bank of England (BoE) and the Treasury this month published the latest data on the Funding for Lending scheme (FLS), an initiative designed to get banks and building societies lending by allowing them to borrow from the BoE at lower rates.
According to the data, 31 participants in the scheme made net drawdowns of £18.8 billion in the four months ending January 31st 2014.
Net lending to households and businesses by FLS participants was £5.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, while cumulative net lending during the period from Q3 2012 to Q4 2013 was £10.3 billion.
Scrutinising the data, Matthew Fell, director for competitive markets at the Confederation of British Industry, pointed out that overall net lending remains positive, but lending to businesses is still "subdued".
He said this validates the BoE's decision to focus the scheme squarely on business lending.
"The increase in confidence among small and medium-sized businesses should soon translate into greater demand for finance and it's important this is met by the FLS," added Mr Fell.
Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, argued that the £10.3 billion of net lending so far should be largely attributed to growth in the housing market, rather than the borrowing appetite of small businesses.
However, he also highlighted one clear positive to emerge from the figures - the growing importance of challenger banks.
"With switching made easier than it previously has been, these are good sources of finance for businesses," said Mr Orford.
"We will continue to monitor the incentives in the scheme to support small businesses and given the better trading conditions in 2014, we hope to see substantially more positive figures in the next release of data."
When the latest figures were released, Paul Fisher, executive director for markets at the BoE, noted that easier credit conditions are playing an important part in the UK's economic recovery.
He reiterated that 2014 will see the FLS continue to support lending to businesses, "where it is most needed".
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