London-headquartered FinTech lender iwoca has pledged to lend £220m to small businesses in the North by the end of 2023 to help them recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

The commitment comes on the back of a £100m pledge for small businesses in the North made by iwoca in 2018, which was achieved almost a year ahead of schedule.

The pledge is announced as the FinTech lender reveals new research, which suggests regions in the North of England could lose between 6 and 14 years worth of growth due to the financial hit created by the pandemic.

The North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber have been forecast to lose 11.7%, 11.2% and 12% of GVA respectively in 2020 it said.

Analysis of the region’s GDP statistics from previous years suggests that these falls would erase the economic growth made between 2004-2018 in the North East, 2012-2018 in the North West and 2010-2018 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

In terms of total years of growth lost, these regions make up three of the top six in England.

Over the past two years iwoca has funded nearly 3,000 small business customers in the North and in December 2019 the lender opened an office in Leeds.

Christoph Rieche, CEO of iwoca said: “Small businesses around the country have been hit hard by the pandemic, but it’s clear that some parts of the country – particularly the North – are suffering disproportionately.

“We want to support business owners in these areas to give them the best chance of recovery over the next few years. With this financial commitment we hope that we can drive up growth and help businesses across the North thrive.”

In August the firm called for an extension of the COVID loan scheme, and said the UK’s largest banks should refer businesses which they did not have the ability to serve.

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