April 30 2013.

- Business lending rose by £0.8bn in March 2013

- Business lending contracted by £1.7bn in Q1 2013

Commenting on the latest Bank of England figures on business lending, John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: "Although it is encouraging that business lending rose slightly in March, the overall decline in the first quarter of 2013 is further evidence of the challenging credit environment that UK firms are operating in. The new look Funding for Lending Scheme must work to rectify this and ensure that the money reaches fast-growing and relatively new firms, who continue to struggle to secure the credit they need.

"This is part of a wider problem around business finance. There has been a lot of talk around the Business Bank but it must be delivered with the sort of urgency and scale required for it to be a true player, and not a pretender, in the lending market. While not competing with commercial banks, the Business Bank should work towards plugging the gap in access to higher risk finance that so many firms are unable to cross."