The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) has reported a 10% decline in the UK’s total asset finance new business in March 2024, compared with the same period last year.  

The total asset finance new business for March 2024, which primarily includes leasing and hire purchase, stood at £3.8bn.  

This figure, although lower than the previous year, represents the third-highest monthly total, surpassed only by March figures in 2019 and 2023. 

In the first quarter of 2024, new business levels as a whole were at par with those of the first quarter of 2023, indicating a stabilisation in the sector.  

However, specific areas such as business new car finance reported a 6% decline during March 2024 when compared with the same month in the previous year. 

The commercial vehicle finance sector managed to maintain its new business, showing resilience amid the overall downturn.  

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On the other hand, the plant and machinery finance and business equipment finance sectors each registered a 24% drop in new business compared with March 2023. 

The observed weakness in the plant and machinery finance sector is partly due to the high level of new business recorded in March 2023, which was influenced by the impending conclusion of the super-deduction allowance. 

FLA director of research and chief economist Geraldine Kilkelly said: “The rebound in the economy demonstrated by the latest official data was reflected in the FLA’s Q2 2024 Industry Outlook Survey which showed almost two-thirds of asset finance respondents expected some increase in business investment over the next 12 months.

“Over the same period, almost three-quarters of respondents anticipated some increase in the value of new business.”