LLOYDS Banking Group has announced a £250 million fund to provide fee-free lending for businesses and farmers, as part of a range of measures for businesses and individuals affected by the floods across Britain.

The fund will be open across Britain from today and businesses can apply through Lloyds Banking Group's network of branches and business centres.

The fund is designed to support the working capital needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and farmers and will allow them to set up, extend or renew overdrafts and loans free of arrangement fees.

It will help businesses manage their way through the current conditions, for example by helping farmers fund food and shelter for livestock. It aims to help any businesses that are currently unable to trade and those that are trying to get back on track.

The announcement is in addition to a range of support already being provided by the group for businesses and individuals across affected regions.

For affected businesses, the group has been providing immediate support by increasing overdrafts, waiving fees and providing loan repayment holidays.

It has also been making calls to impacted farming customers, providing overdrafts where required. The group is also continuing to provide one per cent discounts on loans to SMEs through the Funding for Lending Scheme.

To support affected personal customers, it has been providing emergency payments and offering alternative accommodation where it is needed, as well as relocating specialist staff from other parts of the country.

Its general insurance business has redeployed specialist staff and sent its emergency response unit to affected areas, to help customers with their insurance claims and to offer practical support on the ground.

It has also been contacting customers, offering immediate support through same-day bank transfers for crucial items, including clothing, food and alternative accommodation.