NatWest aims to provide £1billion in extra lending to UK manufacturers to accelerate the transition to sustainability.
The money is aimed at stimulating growth in the sector and helping manufacturers invest in cleaner, more efficient forms of energy generation and use, with lending deployed through loans, asset finance, and overdrafts.
The assets, activities, companies which are eligible for this £1 billion lending are those aligned with NatWest Group’s Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing Inclusion Criteria.
Manufacturing in the UK is responsible for nearly ten per cent of total economic output, and over eight per cent of all employment in the UK. However, it is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with over 12 per cvent of the UK total attributed to the sector. With the industry likely to remain energy intensive, NatWest is aiming to offer support those in the sector that includes lending, partnerships and tailored financial advice.
The bank is also partnering with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to pilot with customers the opportunity to join their Business Energy Aid Toolkit programme, which identifies the energy use involved in their business’ processes and production. The programme then recommends actions to reduce emissions, alongside estimates of the impact these would have on overall emissions. Businesses that have completed the programme to date have seen minimum energy savings of 12 per cent, with an average saving of 21 per cent.
The bank also offers its free Carbon Planner tool, which allows businesses to measure their carbon footprint and build a plan to reduce their emissions on a simple online portal.
“Manufacturing is a significant contributor to both the economy and UK carbon emissions, and so it’s important that businesses in this sector are supported to transition to cleaner, more sustainable operations in a positive way, where the benefits outweigh the costs,” said Alison Rose DBE, chief executive, NatWest Group and co-chair of UK Energy Efficiency Task Force.
“As part of my role on the UK Energy Efficiency Task Force, it has become clear that the best way of delivering change at scale is through public and private sectors working together. For NatWest, that starts with helping businesses move forward in an informed and supported way.”
The UK has committed to reduce total energy demand by 15 per cent, from 2021 levels, by 2030.
“UK manufacturers are continuing to experience prohibitively high energy costs which significantly effects their ability to be competitive in global markets,” Professor David Greenwood, CEO of WMG centre high value manufacturing catapult, University of Warwick, said. “In partnership with NatWest, WMG are helping UK manufacturing to deliver both economic benefits as well as environmental benefits as we move forwards this critical objective. The BEAT (Business Energy Action Toolkit) programme is already supporting small and medium sized manufacturers take control of their energy costs, make better decisions, and maintain or increase profitability.”
The announcement came as NatWest held its first Regional Growth Conference at Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium, bringing together over 250 business leaders, policymakers and experts to help drive growth, collaboration and investment in the West Midlands.