The Bank of England has reported that the availability of credit to UK businesses “increased significantly” in the last three months of 2012.
In its latest Credit Conditions Survey the Bank said large and medium-sized companies benefitted the most, with a slight increase for small firms.
While no amounts were revealed in the survey, the Bank said the increase was the first reported rise in credit availability for a year.
Lenders reported to Threadneedle Street that the Funding for Lending Scheme, introduced last year, had been an important factor in increasing credit availability.
It was also reported that looking ahead to the first three months of 2013 lenders expected a further increase in availability to the corporate sector as a whole, mainly focused on large and medium-sized firms.
Approval rates for such businesses were also likely to see a small increase.
Meanwhile demand for credit rose slightly in the fourth quarter from medium-sized firms, but fell for small businesses.
The Bank said this demand arose mainly from balance sheet restructuring, but also a reported rise in mergers and acquisitions activity among large and medium-sized companies.
Despite the rise in availability and slight hike in demand, lenders warned that corporate borrower confidence “remained fragile” as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the Eurozone and domestic economic concerns.