The Bank of England has announced a £2.4bn fall in lending in the final quarter of last year compared with the previous three months. The fall has occurred in spite of the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which aimed to encourage banks to lend more money, both to individuals and businesses, and boost the economy. The banks have still made use of the FLS by taking up nearly £14bn since the scheme started, however the scheme has been slow to take off because banks have to scrutinise and approve loan applications.The Funding for Lending Scheme has made at least £70bn available for banks at reduced interest rates, but only if they guarantee to lend the money to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as individuals. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls called the figures “deeply disappointing” and said it was time the government came up with some alternatives to boost lending. However, the British Bankers Association (BBA) have insisted that most loans that are asked for are approved however, “It is more of a demand issue, rather than a supply issue” that has caused the reduction in lending to businesses.Despite the fall, there has been a glimmer of hope in the mortgage market with some mortgage rates at their lowest for five years. The Treasury claimed that the FLS scheme has already had a significant effect with average rates of home loans falling to 3.53% in January. However, Paul Tucker from the Treasury Select Committee hinted that “extraordinary” policies needed to be considered in order to encourage more business lending, as the majority of loans funded by FLS had gone to home buyers rather than small and medium-sized businesses.The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.Setfords Solicitors are a national full service law firm, with business law solicitors in Birmingham and across the country.