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The commercial vehicle finance sector reported a fall in new business of 32% in March, reflecting the measures taken by the government to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

New figures released by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) also showed that the plant and machinery finance sector saw a reduction in new business of just under a quarter (23%), compared with the same month in 2019.

IT equipment finance was the only asset sector to report growth in March, with new business up by 15%.

Geraldine Kilkelly, FLA chief economist, said that of particular concern was new lending to SMEs, which contracted by 19% compared with March 2019, and by 10% in Q1 2020 as a whole: “We continue to urge the government to provide support for non-bank lenders by allowing them to access the Term Funding Scheme,” she said.

“This would ensure that a diverse, innovative and competitive business lending market remains in place to help the economic recovery.”