Darling pledges £60m to help small firms

Chancellor Alistair Darling has pledged to inject £60m into the Small Firms Loan Guarantee scheme.

The SFLG aims to provide funding for small firms which might not be eligible for conventional business loans because they don’t have assets to offer as security.

The scheme provides lenders with government guarantees against default under certain circumstances.

Darling says he will extend the scheme to protect businesses that have been in existence for over five years. Only firms under five years old with an annual turnover of up to £5.6m are currently eligible.

The chancellor also announced a new capital fund for female entrepreneurs and an increase in the Enterprise Investment Scheme’s investment limit from £400,000 to £500,000.

The Enterprise Management Incentive’s grant limit will also rise from £100,000 to £120,000. The EIS is designed to offer tax relief to investors and the EMS is a share option scheme.