Manufacturing to benefit from 1bn fund

Peter SleighRBS and NatWest has pledged to make £1 billion of new loans available on competitive, flexible terms to UK manufacturing businesses, 18,000 of which are located in the North West.

The bank has ring-fenced a fund specifically for the manufacturing sector and is offering loans of between £250,000 and £25m on competitive fixed rates.

Manufacturing businesses of any size are eligible for the loans and can take advantage of the opportunity to defer repayments for up to three years.

The North West’s 18,000 manufacturing companies employ 351,000 people, representing 11.9% of the region’s total employment.

The bank is launching its dedicated manufacturing fund in response to feedback from customers in the sector who are anticipating growing demand for their products during 2010 and beyond.

The fund will provide loans designed to help those businesses finance investment and ensure they are poised to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves as the market for their products and services begins to recover.

Recent data provide evidence for cautious optimism in a sector which, with nearly 168,000 manufacturing companies employing more than 2.5 million people, has a significant role to play in the UK economy.

Whilst the recent signs are encouraging we can’t forget the context they must be taken in, which is that this sector has been hit particularly hard by the recession and its return to full health will not happen overnight.

We want to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist the sector as conditions begin to improve.

As we see many of our manufacturing customers turning their thoughts to investment in order to drive competitiveness, we want to send a clear message of support to them by creating a fund that is designed specifically to enable that investment.

We believe the fixed rate deals we are launching today are better than you would find anywhere else in the market currently.

The manufacturing fund is the latest in a series of initiatives launched by RBS and NatWest in support of UK businesses, including an SME Customer Charter, a customer support helpline, and a price promise and committed overdrafts for SMEs.

Peter Sleigh, regional director, Natwest.