Invoice finance and asset based lending to UK and Irish businesses hit £19.3bn (€24.3bn) at the end of the first quarter of 2016, up 2% on the previous year, according to the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA).

The latest figures showed a significant increase in the funding advanced to the smallest clients – those with annual turnovers below £500,000- with the industry advancing £784m in total to these businesses at the end of Q1. The average amount advanced to these clients stood at around £57,000, up 14% compared to the previous quarter and 43% year-on-year.

The figures came as the British Business Bank and ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty, in association with the ABFA and partners across the business finance industry, launched the second edition of the Business Finance Guide.

Commenting on the launch, Jeff Longhurst, chief executive officer of the ABFA, said: "There is a finance gap for small businesses, but just as importantly, there is also an information gap. It is essential that information about the types of finance that are available is fully accessible to the businesses that need it."