Lloyds Banking Group has pledged a new £18bn lending commitment for British businesses in 2020, to support SMEs through what its CEO has described as “uncertain times.”

The funding will support entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, micro-businesses looking to scale up and small businesses considering trading internationally for the first time.

The lender will also look to support established medium-sized businesses and large multinational corporations seeking growth.

In addition to the funding pledge, Lloyds has said it is putting sustainability “at the heart of our relationship teams’ support for businesses.”

This is in line with the group’s ambitions to support existing and new customers with energy-efficient improvements, like adding a two and a half million square feet of commercial real estate and delivering renewable energy projects capable of powering 5m homes by 2020.

The bank said: “To support customers on their sustainability journey, over 450 relationship managers have undertaken intensive training on climate change and sustainability-related risks and opportunities in collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership.”

António Horta Osório, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, said: “In 2020, our commitment to supporting businesses is undiminished and we will lend up to £18bn to businesses across the UK. We know that during uncertain times our customers look to us not just for financial support but also for expert guidance to navigate the challenges they may face.”

“Whatever the future brings, we will continue to support UK businesses as part of our commitment to help Britain prosper,” he concluded.

Some of the businesses Lloyds supported in 2019 include the London-based confectionery business Jealous Sweets and the Lerwick Port Authority.