December 1 2015.

Overdrafts have traditionally been a flexible and dependable way for businesses to weather the storm and get through tricky periods of bad cashflow. Unfortunately, since the credit crunch the major banks have been greatly restricted in their capacity to lend to small companies, and since 2011, business overdrafts have been reduced or removed by £8.4bn — that's a rate of £5m per day, every day.

Even more worryingly, the withdrawal of business overdrafts for SMEs has disproportionately affected businesses in the north of the country. While 25% of businesses in London have had their overdraft facilities taken away in the last few years, this situation has affected a staggering 55% of northern firms — so firms in the north are even more desperate to find alternative lines of credit.

The impact on the country at large is concerning too, with a lack of SME lending resulting in an estimated £2.9bn of lost revenues in the last five years. The data has borne out time and again that access to lending drives growth amongst small and medium-sized enterprises — so where can businesses turn if their bank overdraft has been taken away?

Here are five options for businesses looking to replace their bank overdraft:

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