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Home > News and Publications > Additional data for lending to UK businesses, including 'Project Merlin' data

Additional data for lending to UK businesses, including 'Project Merlin' data

Following a period of discussion between the Government and the major UK banks, known as 'Project Merlin', a statement was made by the banks on 9 February 2011.1 As part of that, the banks stated a capacity and willingness to lend £190 billion of new credit to business in 2011, with £76 billion of this lending capacity allocated to small and medium-sized enterprises. If demand exceeds this, the banks committed to lend more.

As part of the accord, the banks agreed to make gross lending data available to the Bank of England for publication in aggregate on a quarterly basis.  These data cover lending to all businesses and lending to small and medium-sized businesses in particular, defined under the 'Project Merlin' agreement as gross lending facilities.

'Project Merlin' data for 2011 are presented here alongside other existing measures of gross and net lending reported by the major banks on the basis used in the Bank’s Trends in Lending publication. The data are totals of lending by the five major UK banks:  Barclays, HSBC, LBG, RBS and Santander.  These data were not collected under the Bank of England's Statistical Code of Practice and the definitions of data used vary across banks.

For a broader discussion of recent developments in lending to UK businesses, see Trends in Lending.

Lending to UK businesses by the five major UK banks
£ billions

'Project Merlin' data
2011 Q1
2011 Q2
2011 Q3
2011 Q4
                    2011 Total2
Gross lending facilities3
o/w gross lending facilities to SMEs4

Alternative measures of lending (Trends in Lending basis)

2011 Q15
2011 Q26,7
2011 Q38
2011 Q4
Gross lending9
Net lending10


  1. An overview of the agreement between the Government and the banks (Barclays, HSBC, LBG, RBS and, in the context of lending, Santander) is available. For more details see also the bank's statement and the Government's statement.
  2. The total may not equal the sum of the quarterly data due to rounding.
  3. Data reported on a group basis to the Bank of England, as part of 'Project Merlin'.
    Definition: Gross facilities made available to UK headquartered businesses, and non-UK headquartered businesses where funds are applied to the UK, covering public and private non-financial and non-bank financial corporations. Data include facilities that are undrawn or drawn. Data include 'rollovers' of facilities, though the extent to which rollovers are included varies across banks. Non seasonally adjusted.
  4. Source and definitions are as above. Data, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), generally cover gross lending facilities to business with £0-25 million turnover, with the exception of one bank for which data cover businesses with £0-15 million turnover. Non seasonally adjusted.
  5. For 2011 Q1, data reported on a group-wide basis to the Bank of England.
  6. From 2011 Q2 onwards, data reported to the Bank of England for groups cover banking entities in the reporting sample rather than all group businesses, and so are not comparable with 2011 Q1or earlier data in Trends in Lending. For more details see the box 'Lending to businesses: a new data collection' in Trends in Lending, January 2012, available at
  7. Data for 2011 Q2 have been revised since their publication in October 2011.
  8. Data for 2011 Q3 have been revised since their publication in October 2011.
  9. Definition: Gross lending to (gross facilities drawn by) UK private non-financial corporations. Data generally exclude gross lending resulting from rollovers of facilities. Non seasonally adjusted.
  10. Definition: Net lending measured as the differences between gross lending to, and gross repayments by, UK private non-financial corporations. Non seasonally adjusted.