Invoice finance and asset-based lending in the UK stood at £23.4bn at the end of 2017, up 5% on the funds advanced at the end of 2016, according to figures published by UK Finance reveal.

The number of UK Finance members’ clients remained stable at around 42,000.

Invoice finance and asset-based lending to small businesses (those with annual turnovers of less than £500,000) increased by 19% in December 2017 compared to the previous year, with advances worth a total of £833m.

Annual sales of clients supported by invoice finance and asset-based lending stood at a record £311bn in 2017, up 4% on 2016.

Annual sales from clients through export invoice discounting facilities stood at £27bn in 2017, up 21% on 2016.

Matthew Davies , director of invoice finance and asset-based lending at UK Finance, said: “These figures show a continuing increase in the use of invoice finance and asset-based lending, particularly amongst smaller firms.

“This reflects a growing appetite for finance amongst those small businesses that are already using external funding.

“These forms of finance can provide extra flexibility and improved liquidity for firms, unlocking working capital to help them grow and invest as well as allowing them to support their own suppliers.

“The industry will continue to work to increase awareness amongst businesses about the different sources of finance that might be appropriate for them.”

UK Finance launched in July last year, takings on most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and The UK Cards Association.

Last week it announced that Simon Walker, the former director general of the Institute of Directors, would become the independent chair of a UK Finance review into the complaints and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) landscape for the UK’s SME market.

The independent review will look at the scale and complexity of banking complaints from SMEs.

It will focus particularly on disputes between financial services providers (excluding insurance products) and small business customers that remain unresolved through the normal customer complaint procedure and may be unsuitable for court processes.