HSBC UK has today launched a £250 million fund to support businesses in Hampshire.

The scheme is part of the bank’s plan to provide £15 billion to help small and medium sizes business across the UK recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Fund, £10 billion of which is targeted to specific regions, aims to support local economies and create job opportunities.

South Hampshire and Dorset have been highlighted as being targeted by the planned support.

The UK-wide fund includes £2 billion for businesses to trade internationally and£1.2 billion available to the agriculture sector.

An additional £500m for the tech sector will be available and another £500m for franchise businesses

Despite the challenging economic environment, 62% of UK businesses intend to increase investment in their business in the next year, according to research from HSBC.

The research found that in 2021, companies plan to focus on employee well-being, customer experience, cash flow/capital management and security.

Almost three quarters (71%) of UK businesses expect to have returned to pre pandemic levels of profitability by the end of 2022 and a fifth by the end of this year.

Furthermore, nearly half of British companies (49%) are projecting sales growth.

Jagdeep Kaur Rai, HSBC UK’s Regional Business Banking Director for the South West, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses in South Hampshire and Dorset and we know they are adapting at pace and looking at what comes next.

“We recently supported Portland Bill Lighthouse Centre with funding to ensure the popular Dorset attraction could reopen once restrictions are lifted.”

“This fund is all about helping businesses to take new opportunities and grow and we want to reassure them that we’re here to support them achieve their goals.”

Philip King, Interim Small Business Commissioner said: “[Small businesses] are the backbone of the economy and ensuring they have the ability to invest and grow is of paramount importance.

“The past 12 months have highlighted the issues many small businesses can face, such as late payments causing real hardship to small businesses.

“Initiatives such as the lending fund will help more businesses to access finance and will help aid business recovery post COVID-19.”