Five years after the financial crisis, and lending to British businesses continues to fall, data from the Bank of England's (BOE) quarterly trends in lending survey Tuesday showed.
The annual rate of growth in the stock of lending to businesses by all UK-resident monetary financial institutions (MFIs) has been negative since mid-2009 across a range of measures, the BOE data showed.
Tuesday's figures showed the three-month annualized growth rate to the end of February 2014 was down 0.5 percent.
This follows five years of continued negative growth in lending to businesses.
However, some positive trends were also noted. In the summary to the quarterly survey, it noted that spreads over reference rates on new lending were "unchanged for small businesses, fell for medium-sized businesses and fell significantly for large businesses in 2014 Q1, according to respondents to the BOE Credit Conditions Survey."
The BOE noted that credit availability has also increased and spreads on new lending to households and many businesses have tightened, with schemes such as the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) and Help to Buy having contributed to the improvement in credit conditions since their introduction.
Dr Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, commented on future prospects, and was optimistic.
He said, "There is clear evidence that firms are now looking to step up their borrowing as markedly improved economic activity in recent months lifts confidence and need for capital."
The BOE's April Credit Conditions survey reported that demand for credit from all sizes of firms had increased in the first quarter, and is expected to pick up further in the second quarter.
Archer said that as demand for credit does pick up, it is "vitally important" for healthy and more balanced growth that all companies who are in decent shape and who do want to borrow -- whether it be lift investment, explore new markets or generally support their operations -- can do so, and at a non-punishing interest rate. This applies to all companies, whatever their size. (One pound = 1.68 U.S. dollars)