LLOYDS Banking Group expects to support firms in Scotland with up to £1.6 billion of lending this year to help fuel start-ups and business expansion.

The funding is available to firms across Scotland and will support entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, micro-businesses seeking to scale-up and small businesses considering trading internationally for the first time. It will also help established mid-sized businesses and large, multi-national corporations seeking further growth.

The lending scheme for 2020 is part of an £18bn commitment for the UK as a whole and follows on from the group’s pledge in 2019, also for £18bn.

Part of that money saw Bank of Scotland support Lerwick Port Authority to develop a new white fish market at Lerwick Harbour by providing a £3 million funding package.

It will allow Shetland’s principal seaport to expand the capacity for landings and meet increasing demand from the island’s commercial fishing industry. The market, featuring the latest green technology and sustainable building materials, was supported via the group’s Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which offers discounted funding to help businesses lower their carbon emissions.

Philip Grant, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for Scotland, said: “We anticipate lending up to £1.6bn to Scottish businesses, enabling them to reach their full growth potential throughout the next 12 months. Whether this means exporting, upscaling, hiring new staff, or investing in sustainable technologies, the support will help firms capitalise on opportunities across the country.

“As part of our plan to help Scotland prosper, we’ll continue to be by the side of business as we navigate new political and economic environments, and support firms to succeed in 2020.”

António Horta Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, added: “In 2020, our commitment to supporting businesses is undiminished and we will lend up to £18bn to businesses across the UK. We know that during uncertain times our customers look to us not just for financial support but also for expert guidance to navigate the challenges they may face.”