The British Business Bank is a government-owned economic development bank that makes finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, allowing those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. The Bank manages the UK government’s access to finance programmes for smaller businesses within a single commercially-minded institution.
UKGI was instrumental in the establishment of the British Business Bank. The role included advising ministers on the rationale and options for creating a single business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The new Bank combined existing teams and new teams recruited to provide expertise in innovative areas such as wholesale solutions. UKGI also led on state aid approval for the Bank and its programmes and on the appointment of initial Board members for the Bank.
While the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is the sole shareholder of the British Business Bank, UKGI has a specific team made up of colleagues with both private sector and civil service backgrounds which leads on the British Business Bank’s governance and the shareholder relationship on behalf of BEIS. UK Government Investments also leads on advising ministers on the establishment and monitoring of the British Business Bank’s targets and performance against its strategic objectives, in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, BBB’s role and reach has grown significantly as it moved at pace to deliver four HMG Covid business support schemes. As a result of these schemes BBB supported over 1.6 million businesses with more than £75 billion of finance. We took a robust but flexible approach to this scale-up and the associated implications for corporate governance, ensuring that insofar as was reasonable BBB had challenging but achievable performance metrics and that BEIS and HMT Ministers were fully sighted on BBB’s activities and understood the associated risks.