Commercial vehicle finance was up 6% to £488m in January on 2015’s figure, against a backdrop of negative growth against last year’s figures for january 2015.

Asset finance new business (primarily leasing and hire purchase) grew by 3% in January compared with the same month last year – the twenty-eighth consecutive month of growth.

Commercial vehicle finance and car finance grew in January by 6% and 4% respectively, but plant and machinery finance fell by 7% over the same period.

IT and business equipment finance also negative growth, down 1% to £102m and 13% to £151m (respectively) on january 2015’s comparative figures

Direct financing by lessors in January was up 13% on last january at £1.08bn, yet broker introduced finance and sales finance were both down 8% to £367m and £525m respectively compared to january 2015.

Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: "Growth continued in the asset finance market in January, albeit at a slower rate than we have seen in recent months. A 17% fall in construction plant finance contributed to the overall contraction in plant and machinery finance and mirrors trends in the wider construction sector.

"Asset finance continues to be an important source of finance for SMEs with the latest BDRC SME Finance Monitor showing a success rate of 94% for SMEs who applied for asset finance in 2015. More than £16 billion of asset finance new business went to support SME investment in machinery and equipment last year."