Ulster Bank, part of the NatWest Group, is launching green loans, and through Lombard, green asset finance propositions for qualifying SMEs, with no arrangement fee, to help them achieve their sustainability ambitions.
Following the announcement of the NatWest’s ambition to provide £100bn of climate and sustainable funding and financing to customers by the end of 2025, green loans and green asset finance opened for applications from February 18.
Together these propositions aim to help qualifying SMEs finance the business assets to support their sustainability ambitions, such as solar panels, electric vehicles, or heat pumps on commercial buildings that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank on an ongoing basis.
Customers do not need to be existing Ulster Bank customers to apply for the Green loan whilst the Green Asset Finance will be available through the Lombard brand.
The new propositions are designed to open up opportunities for sustainable growth options for qualifying SMEs and reflect the societal benefit of delivering climate action.
To apply, qualifying SMEs will work directly with an Ulster Bank or Lombard Relationship Manager to discuss their needs and check their eligibility.
The announcement follows the publication of NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainable Recovery report last October, which found that the UK’s six million SMEs can achieve 50 per cent of the UK’s net zero decarbonisation goals worth an estimated £160 billion revenue opportunity.
However, the report found that less than 10 per cent of SMEs currently see climate action as a source of future growth, and that SMEs lack access to support through funding, knowledge and training.
The new propositions will be open to applications from qualifying SMEs who want to acquire assets that fall within the eligible list developed by the bank from time to time, relating to:
n Clean buildings: retrofits for buildings and low carbon heating measures;
n Clean energy: renewable energy generation and energy storage systems;
n Clean transport: electric vehicles;
n Agriculture: renewable technology, crops, livestock, forest respiration and conservation, marine and low emission management.
Lombard, as part of NatWest Group, is a specialist provider of asset finance across multiple business sectors and has been financing sustainability assets for many years.
Its new Green Asset Finance proposition has no arrangement fee and aims to increase choices available to NI businesses by supporting their investment in sustainability with a wider range of financing options.
Asset finance provides businesses with an efficient way to finance a wide range of business assets, including assets that customers use to make their businesses more sustainable and electric vehicles.
Asset finance provides businesses with a way to spread the costs of an asset over the period they will use it.
Lombard Vehicle Solutions, contract hire solution provided through ALD Automotive, also enables customers to flexibly lease new electric and hybrid vehicles with the additional services they need to meet their needs.
Mark Crimmins, Regional Managing Director, Ulster Bank, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges we face today, and SMEs have a critical role to play in helping Northern Ireland realise its green ambition.
“The reality is that while SMEs want to help by reducing emissions, they can often face many barriers doing so such as limited access to information, funding, and training.
“We’re working to remove these barriers with concrete actions – providing incentives, such as loans and asset financing that aim to support sustainability ambitions and aim to benefit businesses whether they bank with Ulster Bank or not.
“Therefore we are announcing our ambition to stand by small businesses here to help them reduce emissions and explore the opportunities that a move towards a green economy brings for us all.
“We cannot underestimate the power of small changes to make a big impact.”
Information on how to apply for a green loan or green asset financing is available on the Ulster Bank Climate Change hub.
The new online resource hub features tips, insights and tools aiming to help all SMEs act now to tackle climate change by reducing emissions and unlocking green growth opportunities.
The Climate Hub brings together resources, products and services that address some of the gaps identified in NatWest’s A Springboard to Sustainability report, as well as educating SMEs around the financial benefits of transitioning towards net zero.
Visitors to the Climate Hub will also have free access to:
Information on the pilot of carbon tracker app, developed in partnership with Cogo, which is due to launch in February 2022 with up to 500 SMEs in the manufacturing and transport sectors.
The app is designed specifically for SMEs to give an estimate of, and help them understand, their carbon footprint and provide suggestions as to how SMEs may be able to reduce it.
n Customers can find out more at www.ulsterbank.co.uk/climate
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