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    ‘Upskirting’ should be criminal offence, campaigners say


    The government should criminalise “upskirting” as a sexual offence, say campaigners, after police data showed one complainant was 10 years old.

    The practice of covertly photographing under the skirts iof women is not recognised as a specific offence.

    There have been just 11 charges related to upskirting since 2015, a Freedom of Information request found.

    But only 15 out of 44 police forces contacted held records and it is feared the number of offences is much higher.

    Currently police charge alleged “upskirters” with other offences.

    MP Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities select committee, said more must be done to stop the “horrific crime” of upskirting.

    She said: “Attempting to take a photograph underneath a skirt is a gross violation of privacy and potentially an act of indecency”.

    Ms Miller added that a stronger legal framework “can help” begin to tackle the problem.

    Law ‘not fit for purpose’

    As there is no law specifically naming and banning the practice, victims and police are presently only able to pursue offences of voyeurism or indecency.

    The FoI requests, made by the Press Association, found the police pursued 78 offences related to upskirting since 2015, but only 11 led to alleged offenders being charged.

    There was insufficient evidence to proceed in several cases, including in regard to an alleged sexual offence on a 10-year-old girl in 2015, Avon and Somerset Police said.

    Upskirting took place in a wide variety of public spaces, including nightclubs, shops and restaurants – with mobile phones frequently used and young woman disproportionately targeted.

    Upskirting allegations by police forces

    • Devon and Cornwall – alleged offences included taking an indecent photograph of a child, voyeurism and conspiring to outrage public decency. One victim said she turned around to see an offender bent over on the floor with his camera up her skirt. Five people were charged. The known victims aged from 25 to 47.
    • Lincolnshire – one alleged offence involved a man seen on CCTV taking pictures up women’s skirts without their knowledge. Another man was spotted by security staff at a McDonald’s restaurant at Cornhill, Lincoln, laying under the stairs and looking up “young girls’ skirts”.
    • Nottingham – of the six reported incidents, two resulted in criminal charges. In one case, a man was seen following a woman around a shop, and taking a picture up her skirt when she approached the checkout.

    Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said the FoI data showed there “are few public places where women are free from this abuse”.

    She said: “The government’s continuing failure to provide an effective criminal law against upskirting breaches women’s human rights.”

    She added women were entitled to protection, privacy and “a law that is fit for purpose”, by treating the act as sexual abuse and providing anonymity to complainants.

    “Only then will victims feel more willing to come forward and report to the police and support prosecutions,” she said.

    Police ‘clearly struggling’

    Campaigners say the current situation resembles that of revenge porn: the practice of posting online explicit material without the subject’s consent, which was only made illegal in April 2015, after a national campaign.

    They argue the ambiguity surrounding upskirting is similar, and that a specific offence needs to be created so the police can pursue more cases.

    Sarah Green, for the End Violence Against Women coalition, described the police figures as “very concerning, even though only a minority of police forces were able to respond because the behaviour is not classified as an offence”.

    She said: “The police responses show that the police are clearly struggling to recognise upskirting distinctly, even though the disclosures reveal that it is commonly connected to existing sexual offences including voyeurism and sexual assault.

    “It is notable that girls and young women are disproportionately targeted where that information has been recorded. The law should be urgently examined in this area.”

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    ‘Enemy’ David Moyes visits England training camp ahead of Calcutta Cup

    England expressed no qualms about having the enemy within camp ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield after issuing an invitation to Scot, West Ham manager, David Moyes, to attend their training on Tuesday along with a trio of other football luminaries, Les Ferdinand (QPR), Stuart Pearce, Moyes’ assistant at the Hammers, and former England international player and manager, Hope Powell, now in charge of Brighton and Hove Albion’s women’s team.

    The arrangement is part of an ongoing cross-fertilisation process that has seen the likes of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, England’s Gareth Southgate and cricket captain, Alastair Cook, come into camp while Eddie Jones has observed sessions at the likes of Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Southampton.

    Jones and his opposite number at Murrayfield on Saturday, Gregor Townsend, have spent time in the company of Manchester City’s, Pep Guardiola, and have both spoken glowingly of the benefits to be had in the transfer of attitudes and practices  between the sporting codes.

    This particular initiative was brokered through the League Managers’ Association. There is little doubt that the England players feel that they get something valuable from the presence of such well-travelled sports personnel.  It is a two-way street with Moyes and his colleagues sure to pick up on various aspects of England’s preparation.  

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    ‘At least 77 civilians killed’ as Syrian regime forces pound Eastern Ghouta 

    Heavy Syrian bombardment killed at least 77 civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta on Monday, a monitor said, as regime forces appeared to prepare for an imminent ground assault.

    The escalation came as pro-government forces were also expected to enter the northern Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin, to take a stand against a month-old Turkish assault there.

    Held by rebels since 2012, Eastern Ghouta is the last opposition pocket around Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad has dispatched reinforcements there in an apparent concerted effort to retake it.

    As the United Nations decried the “senseless human suffering”, a barrage of air strikes, rocket fire and artillery slammed into several towns across Eastern Ghouta on Monday.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 20 children were among 77 civilians killed in the assault, while around 300 other people were wounded.

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    Is it too late to save local newspapers?

    The government has announced a review into the future of the newspaper industry, warning that the closure of hundreds of regional papers is fuelling fake news and is “dangerous for democracy”.

    But is it already too late?

    Former Coventry Evening Telegraph printer Mick Williams gave BBC News a look at the newspaper’s heyday.

    Filmed by Simone Stewart. Edited by Sara al-Wajih. Produced by Alice Hutton.

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    FA poised for investigation after Sergio Aguero clashes with invading fan after Manchester City’s Cup exit at Wigan

    City will speak to Wigan in the next few days to ask why the pitch invasion – which took several minutes to clear – was allowed to happen, placing their players in danger.

    The FA may also want to look at the behaviour of both sets of supporters as the Wigan fans ran over to goad City’s at the end. Some of the visiting supporters reacted by ripping up advertising hoardings and attempting to throw them on the pitch.

    The incident was not the only unedifying one during a dramatic cup-tie and both managers could also face investigation as they clashed on the touchline and then, at half-time, in the tunnel. The behaviour of City manager Pep Guardiola and Wigan’s Paul Cook was caught on camera although the FA will first wait on the report of referee Anthony Taylor before deciding whether they need to intervene.

    The incident erupted after the sending off of Fabian Delph for a tackle on Wigan’s Max Power. Both managers tried to play it down afterwards with Guardiola not disputing the red card – even though Taylor had initially appeared set to only caution Delph.

    Asked about the sending off Guardiola said: “Red card. It was a red card, yeah… The ref decides what he decides.” 

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    25 things you absolutely need to know about Top Gear’s 25th series

    Top Gear: Chris Harris, Matt LeBlanc and Rory Reid

    The new series of Top Gear begins on Sunday with Matt LeBlanc, Rory Reid and Chris Harris returning to host.

    It’s the second season of the BBC Two car show to be fronted by the trio, and the 25th since the programme was re-launched in 2002.

    We went along to the press launch, watched a few preview clips and interviewed LeBlanc, Reid and Harris.

    (The Stig was there too but didn’t have much to say.)

    Here are 25 things you need to know about Top Gear 25:

    1. Chris, Rory and Matt are gelling as a presenting team.

    “The c-word was one that was thrown at us a lot in the first season,” says Chris.

    Nobody panic – he’s talking about chemistry.

    “But it was just fanciful to think that you can just create a chemistry overnight. You don’t, do you?

    “You have to learn where people’s funnybone is before you can start to poke fun and work out where that joy lies.”

    2. Producers have an interesting approach to health and safety.

    “They look at a situation, and if there’s a greater-than-60% chance of surviving, they’ll put you in it,” laughs Rory.

    “Which I think is fair, it’s good odds.”

    3. Top Gear fundamentally remains a serious motoring show, thank you very much.

    “[The programme] doesn’t have the right to be funny and silly… unless it retains its grounding in being a car show,” says Chris.

    “I don’t think you’d trust Mary Berry if you found out she couldn’t bake a cake.

    “So it has to review cars. It has to have an element of testing, me talking about suspension components, which many people find deeply boring, but that’s what it’s about.”

    4. Matt is no longer in touch with Chris Evans.

    “He’s supposed to be here, I don’t know, where he is?” the former Friends star jokes, looking around the room.

    “You know, I haven’t spoken to Chris. I haven’t. Not because… I just, I’ve been busy, he’s been busy, I have no animosity towards him, you know.”

    Right, moving on.

    5. Rory has lost two-and-a-half stone since the last series.

    For which he credits his intensive exercise regime.

    6. Matt has zero time for accusations of political incorrectness on Friends.

    The week we speak to Matt, a string of stories have appeared in the press about how younger generations are turning their backs on Friends because of its apparent fat shaming and homophobia.

    “I’ve heard those rumours too about people taking pot shots at Friends, but I don’t want to get into that. I disagree with all that,” Matt says.

    “On Top Gear we tend to steer clear of any sort of political content, nothing too topical.

    “On Friends we steered clear of that kind of thing, too. Friends was about themes that stand the test of time – trust, love, relationships, betrayal, family and things like that.”

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    “Could we BE any more politically incorrect?”

    7. And, now you bring it up, nor is he a fan of risque humour in general.

    “I’m not in the business of making political jokes, politically incorrect jokes,” he says.

    “I don’t want to make jokes that make people go ‘Ooh, that’s not my bag.’ I don’t like that, I run from that kind of stuff.

    “Because that joke isn’t going to be relevant in six months. You talk about ‘Hey man, you lied to me,’ or ‘Wasn’t that fun?’ – that’ll always be relevant.”

    8. Rory now gets recognised in Sainsbury’s.

    Rory started out presenting the sister programme, Extra Gear, before making the leap to the main show.

    “I travel a lot, and I seem to get recognised in most places. Everyone’s really nice, no-one’s really horrible,” he says of his higher profile.

    “But you go shopping in Sainsbury’s and people stare at you, come up and have a look at what’s in your trolley, take pictures of it and stuff.

    “So you’ve got to be careful about what you’re buying,” he points out, adding that he wants to avoid any headlines like ‘Rory Reid buys £600 of champagne.’

    “Not that I’d ever do that. I’m more of a prosecco man.”

    9. Matt doesn’t consider himself a TV presenter.

    Despite this being his third season fronting the show.

    “Presenting is not what I do. I’m an actor, playing the part of a presenter. That’s what I do. So is it really me you see on Top Gear? Probably not,” he says.

    “It’s the me that suits the film we’re making. It’s the me that suits the studio portion in front of the crowd. That’s what an actor does, you try to mould yourself to fit the needs of the piece.”

    10. “Granted, Spielberg’s not calling me,” he adds.

    We don’t see why not.

    “I could give you a hundred reasons why not,” he laughs.

    11. Chris and Matt STILL haven’t agreed about Bigfoot.

    One episode sees the two presenters go out in search of Bigfoot.

    It’s fair to say they have differing opinions of the creature’s existence – as this particular exchange at the press launch proved.

    Chris: “Some of the ideas on the show are obviously silly. To wake up one morning and go to northern California, to go and [shouts across the room] LOOK FOR AN ANIMAL THAT DOESN’T EXIST. [Matt turns around]. Sorry, did I say that loudly?”

    Matt: [Shouting back] “It’s not an animal. Not an animal.”

    Chris: “Sorry, it’s a gorilla. An eight-foot gorilla.”

    Matt: “It’s a being. A being.”

    No chance of getting this cleared up anytime soon we don’t think.

    12. Rory is trying to get Chris sacked. Kind of.

    When asked what ideas he’d like to see explored on future seasons of Top Gear, Rory says: “I want to see autonomous cars, self-driving cars.”

    Wouldn’t that leave him out of a job though?

    “I want to put Harris out of a job, he gets to drive all the good stuff,” he jokes.

    13. Matt would like more money in the accommodation budget please.

    Anyone concerned about how BBC money is being spent need not worry about wastage on Top Gear.

    “We just got back from a week in Sri Lanka,” Matt explains, adding sarcastically: “[The hotel] was fantastic. I think we’re spending too much on the hotel budget.

    “The idea is to get all your money on the screen, apparently.”

    Top Gear doesn’t exactly have a great record when it comes to dealing with accommodation and catering issues in a calm and orderly manner, so we hope this gets resolved soon.

    14. Chris describes Matt as an “inveterate practical joker”.

    “You never have a straightforward day,” he says of his prank-playing co-star.

    “Let’s just say when we’re on a photo call, he’ll allow his arm to tap me somewhere that leaves me bent over double.

    “There are some extraordinary images of him standing there, and he does it with the Matt LeBlanc face, and I’m doubled over and it looks like I’ve lost the plot completely.”

    15. Matt considers England a second home.

    “I do like it here. The first thing I ever did here was Lost In Space, back in ’96 or ’97. And then I hadn’t worked here in a long time and came back to do Episodes.

    “I do like England. It’s like being in Europe but you can understand the language.”

    16. Chris is scared of flying.

    So you can imagine how a stunt in the new series involving him trying out a flying car goes down.

    17. Matt thinks comparisons with Clarkson, Hammond and May are “inevitable”.

    “I was a big fan of the show before, I think it was great, those guys were great,” he says diplomatically.

    “But, they’re not here anymore. They left. That had nothing to do with me. I was asked to come in, and I think, I can’t do what they did. But also they can’t do what I did. So it’s slightly different.”

    18. Rory agrees.

    “It’s natural for people to want to compare,” he says.

    “What’s important is that we haven’t tried to fill their shoes in any way. None of us is trying to be Clarkson, May or Hammond.”

    19. And look, Chris thinks there’s room for Top Gear and The Grand Tour to co-exist on television perfectly peacefully so everybody just calm down.

    “Motoring has an enormous audience and it’s only really served by two global shows,” he says.

    “I think the others do a great job. I think we do a great job. And long may the comparisons continue, because I’m really proud of the films that we’ve made in this season, I think they stack up against any opposition.”

    20. Matt isn’t too worried about ratings.

    “I don’t concern myself with that stuff, that’s a network issue,” he says. “If you want to talk ratings, talk to the BBC.”

    “The level they need it to perform at, and what it does, they must be happy, we’re still here, you know what I mean? So they’re good enough.”

    21. Top Gear remains a family show.

    “It’d be very easy to try and make it a bit sweary and laddish, but it’s not,” says Chris.

    “It’s a staple at 8pm on a Sunday evening and you should be able to watch it with your kids.

    “My youngest is seven, and I can watch Top Gear happily with him, and not worry about something that’s going to embarrass me or him.”

    Probably best he steers clear of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

    22. Petrolheads can go online if they need a bigger motoring fix.

    Harris landed his Top Gear presenting gig after building up a sizeable YouTube following.

    “I want to know what the ramp angles are on the differential in the car. And I can find that on YouTube. I can’t find it on television, and that’s why it’s great [to have both],” he says.

    “In fact, the two worlds need to stop warring, because they’re complimentary.

    “The Top Gear brand is big online, and I love [doing the online videos]… they satisfy the geek audience. But the TV show has to be more general.”

    23. The presenters don’t do all their own stunts.

    “We have a team of pro drivers. I’m not a pro driver, I’m probably above average, I would say, but when it gets really dodgy, you hand the car over and the pro drivers do some,” explains Matt.

    “It’s not a race, we’re here to make a television show. We do a lot of the driving, and sometimes out of a scheduling thing we can’t be there because we’re shooting something else, but for the most part it’s us.”

    24. There’s a great sequence in the new series involving eggs.

    (Perhaps the BBC is trying to compensate for the loss of Paul Hollywood.)

    Chris makes a bold claim that his Citroen 2CV is such a smooth ride that you could comfortably carry a basket of eggs with you without one smashing.

    25. You can probably guess what happens next.

    All hell breaks loose after the first couple of eggs inevitably smash, and Matt ends up covered in more yolk than you’d ever expect one of the most recognisable actors in the world to be.

    “We got a jet washer in and had to blow all the egg out,” Chris says of the smell that the stunt left behind.

    But, Rory adds: “Chris’s 2CV looks pretty broken and beaten up already, so I think the eggs were an improvement personally.”

    Watch the trailer below:

    Top Gear 25 begins on Sunday 25 February 20:00 GMT on BBC Two.

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    Carillion directors accused of being ‘contemptuous’ over pension payments

    Three years later, trustees once again wrote to TPR saying that “an impasse had been reached” over the latest pension payments deal and asked for “formal intervention” from the regulator.

    Although TPR held a number of meetings with the trustees and Carillion’s directors, it did not open an investigation into whether it could use anti-avoidance measures until after the company collapsed.

    Mr Field condemned the regulator for not acting sooner, saying that he hoped it would be seeking to recoup some of the money from directors’ bonuses. Senior members of the regulator will appear before MPs on Thursday.

    “With characteristic alacrity, the Pensions Regulator started its arduous process of chasing money down from Carillion a few days after it was formally announced there was no money left,” Mr Field added.

    TPR said it had “worked closely” with the trustees and the company after an initial profit warning last July, helping the two parties to agree a deferral of payments to the pension scheme until Carillion had sorted its cash flow problems out.

    It also defended its engagement with the company in the years previously.

    A spokesperson for TPR said: “When the trustees wrote to us in 2013 to say they could not agree funding plans with the company, we did intervene by threatening to use our powers unless a funding plan was agreed.”

    This resulted in a “significant increase” in the amount of money the company was prepared to pay into the scheme, he said.

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    International Development Committee to quiz Oxfam bosses

    Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring and chair Caroline Thomson leave the Department for International Development after a meeting on 12 February 2018Image copyright

    Image caption

    Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring and chair of trustees Caroline Thomson will be questioned by MPs

    Senior Oxfam executives are to appear before MPs amid criticism over the way it handled claims of sexual misconduct by its staff in Haiti.

    The International Development Committee will question the charity’s chief Mark Goldring and chair of trustees Caroline Thomson, about safeguarding policies.

    Representatives from Save the Children and the Department for International Development will also be quizzed.

    Oxfam has apologised to Haiti at a meeting with its minister of planning.

    Earlier this month, the Times newspaper published allegations that Oxfam aid workers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake had used prostitutes. Oxfam denied a cover-up but its handling of the scandal is being investigated by the Charity Commission.

    MPs on the international development committee have convened an urgent session to investigate the crisis.

    They will also ask Save the Children’s chief Kevin Watkins about his charity’s response to the issues raised.

    DfID’s Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft will tell the committee about the department’s knowledge of the situation.

    Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, told the Guardian newspaper on Saturday that the scale and intensity of the criticism against his organisation in the wake of claims its workers used prostitutes in Haiti was out of proportion to its level of culpability.

    ‘Problem staff’

    On Monday, Oxfam – which has almost 10,000 staff working in more than 90 countries – released a redacted version of its internal report on alleged abuse by some of its staff in Haiti, saying it wants to be “as transparent as possible” about the decisions it made.

    It revealed that three of the men accused of sexual misconduct in Haiti physically threatened witnesses during a 2011 investigation.

    Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

    Oxfam also said “more needed” to be done to prevent “problem staff” working for other charities.

    However, the charity presented the original, unedited report to the government in Haiti on Monday.

    Speaking after the meeting with Haitian minister Aviol Fleurant, Simon Ticehurst, Oxfam regional director for Latin America, said the charity would be starting “the long road ahead of re-establishing trust and partnership, given our 40-year history with Haiti and its citizens.

    “We stand ready to engage with the Haitian people and have expressed our openness to co-operate as much as required with the Haitian government.”

    Image copyright

    Image caption

    Mr Van Hauwermeiren worked in Chad from 2006-09 before going to Haiti in 2010

    In the report, the charity said director of operations in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, “admitted using prostitutes” at his Oxfam residence when questioned by the investigation team.

    Mr Van Hauwermeiren last week denied paying prostitutes for sex.

    He was granted a “phased and dignified exit” and was allowed to resign, the report added, on the provision that he fully co-operated with the rest of the investigation.

    It is not known if he is one of the suspects accused of threatening witnesses.

    The 2011 report also called for tighter safeguarding across the industry to stop disgraced aid workers moving to new posts.

    Despite the warning, several of those implicated subsequently worked for other aid organisations, including at Oxfam.

    Oxfam says it will set up a commission to investigate past and present allegations of exploitation by staff.

    Meanwhile, ministers have said Oxfam has agreed to stop bidding for UK government funding until it can show it meets the “high standards” required.

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    Councils are battling with 37 cyber attacks every minute, survey finds

    Council IT networks are under attack from 37 cyber attacks every minute, local authorities have admitted.

    A survey of councils in the UK found that they have been targeted by nearly 100 million cyber attacks in five years.

    The findings lay bare the vast scale of the cyber threat faced by town halls, which store data relating to millions of residents.

    Research by privacy campaign organisation Big Brother Watch found that councils in the UK were subjected to at least 98 million cyber attacks between 2013 and 2017.

    The figures covers malicious attempts to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks or devices.

    The analysis found cyber attacks on local authorities most…

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    Winter Olympics: GB men’s curlers crush Norway to boost semi-final hopes

    Kyle Smith described the 10-3 victory over Norway as the British men’s “best performance so far” as they took a huge step towards the curling semi-finals.

    “It feels like we’re getting better with each game. That’s three wins back-to-back so we know a win over the USA will see us into the semi-finals,” he told BBC Sport.

    Smith’s rink controlled the match from the outset, as they took three from the first end before stealing a single in the second.

    Norway got two back in the third but it was only a temporary setback as a beautifully-judged final shot in the fourth from Smith put Team GB 6-2 up.

    Having limited the 2010 silver medallists to a single in the fifth, Team GB added to their emphatic halfway lead with another three in the sixth.

    At 9-3 the match looked out of sight for the off-form Norwegians and they conceded after seven ends as Team GB stole another single to round off a terrific display and claim their fifth win in eight games.

    Their final round-robin contest is against the United States on Wednesday.

    Analysis – ‘A very happy team’

    Steve Cram, BBC curling commentator:

    That has been Britain’s best performance of the games so far, not just in terms of the score but in the manner of their performance.

    Great Britain walked off the ice a very, very happy team indeed.

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    Small firms increasingly reluctant to borrow from big banks, report finds

    Keith Morgan, chief executive of the British Business Bank, told the Telegraph small firms’ reluctance to borrow could reflect a more “cautious” approach.

    “If you look at where we are compared to five years ago, small business owners are more in control of their businesses,” he said. “It could be that people have been through a financial crisis and have been rebuilding their balance sheets. Over the five year period there has been a healthy growth in cash balances at small firms.”

    The report comes amid scrutiny on high street lenders’ treatment of small businesses, with MPs earlier this month launching an inquiry into the small business lending market.

    Parliament’s Treasury select committee launched an inquiry into finance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) earlier this month to assess competition in the market and to learn the lessons from a scandal at an RBS unit.

    The Treasury committee will vote tomorrow on whether to use Parliamentary powers to publish a watchdog report into RBS’s now-defunct turnaround unit Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which was accused of “widespread” mistreatment of struggling firms over a five year period.

    Mr Morgan said he had seen “no evidence” that recent scandals had affected business owners’ attitudes to banking.

    “All I can say is there is more choice in the market,” he added. “It is good news that we are seeing a significant increase in alternative forms of finance.”

    The British Business Bank report also found a record number of start-ups – with more than 414,000 launching last year – and the highest-ever proportion of small businesses in the UK economy as a whole. Mr Morgan said this showed evidence of a “thriving start-up culture” emerging in Britain.

    The majority of SMEs surveyed expected no impact from leaving the EU, with only 4pc planning to make changes to their investment plans and 3pc looking to change their recruitment plans due to Brexit, although only 5pc of respondents said they expected to grow as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

    The British Business Bank was founded to boost investment in early-stage companies and was lifted by a further £2.5bn in the chancellor Philip Hammond’s last Autumn Budget.

    The bank pledged £100m of lending guarantees to help suppliers hit by the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion earlier this month.

    In recent months it has begun pledging money to make up for funding “paused” by EU agencies, including the European Investment Fund, for UK companies after the Brexit vote.

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