SMALL businesses struggling to obtain credit have been given increased hope after figures showed net lending to the sector rose for the first time in five months. Net lending to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), the difference between loans paid out by banks and the amount repaid, had been negative between July and October. New Bank of England figures show it increased by [pounds]200m in November, though net lending to all non-financial businesses fell overall by [pounds]3.1bn. The figures come after the Funding for Lending scheme, launched in 2012 to encourage loans by offering banks cheap finance, was strengthened last year to skew incentives towards SME financing. The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said gross lending to SMEs, at [pounds]4bn in November, was 38 per cent higher than the [pounds]2.9bn in the same month the year before. Anthony Browne , BBA chief executive, said: "This is more good news for the economy at the start of the new year."
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