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This Black Country business loan provider is ready to ‘step up’ to support companies facing financial pressures

Black Country business loan provider BCRS Business Loans is ready to ‘step up’ to support companies facing financial pressures during the current cost of living crisis, its chief executive told the annual general meeting.

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Stephen Deakin and Paul Smee

Looking back on 20 years of progress by Wolverhampton-based BCRS Business Loans, chief executive Stephen Deakin told the AGM that the co-operative Community Development Finance Institution was preparing to help firms get finance if they were unable to borrow from traditional lenders.

BCRS Business Loans work with companies to enable them to secure loans from between £10,000 and £150,000 to support growth and recovery plans.

A social impact study for BCRS for the most recent financial year showed BCRS lent £8.6 million to 101 businesses, safeguarding 1,010 jobs and creating 450 roles, adding £45m in value to the economy of the West Midlands and surrounding region. Of this funding 44 per cent went to the UK’s top 35 per cent most disadvantaged areas, with 15 per cent going to female-led businesses and 12 per cent to ethnic minority-led firms, ahead of national lending averages.

Describing the last year’s performance as “strong”, Mr Deakin said his team were ready to support firms during the economic uncertainty predicted for the months ahead. He said: “It is in the tough times when BCRS steps up to do what it does best.

“For difficult lending propositions we need to make sure that as a responsible lender we only do business where we can see it stacks up. We are here to step up. I could not be prouder of the team at BCRS and their work. They are a pleasure to work with.”

Having celebrated the 20th anniversary of BCRS being launched Mr Deakin updated the AGM, held at Wolverhampton Science Park on September 16, on the impact since 2002.

He said: “In 20 years we have lent £79.5m to 1,436 businesses, safeguarding a total of 9,289 jobs and creating 4,988 more roles. We have added £411.3m to the region. Half of these achievements since 2002 have been made in the last four years. Our mantra remains ‘no viable business should go unsupported’.”

Also speaking at the AGM, chairman Paul Smee said BCRS continued to be “a values driven lender”. Mr Smee said: “It is good to see us playing an increasingly leading role in our sector. The board is keen to see BCRS grow and reach more businesses, which will help the local economy. Our strategy is growth focussed and we have confidence in our model and our first-rate team delivering the plan.”

Not-for-profit lender BCRS recently went live as a delivery partner for the new Recovery Loan Scheme in the West Midlands. BCRS will deliver loans from £25,001 to £150,000 via the Government-backed Scheme to support the growth and recovery of businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. BCRS announced earlier this year that during the pandemic it had a record financial year delivering £13.3m to businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.