By Jonathan Davies

The level of lending to the UK's small businesses through the Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme increased slightly in the first three months of the year, the central bank has said.

Lending increased by £635 million, the bank said, following an £800m fall in the final quarter of 2014.

Lloyds Banking Group accounted for the majority of the increase, with lending rising £409m.

The Funding for Lending Scheme was launched by the Bank of England in 2012. Its aim was to provide High Street banks with money to lend to businesses. In 2014, the scheme was adapted to focus on lending to small businesses.

But the scheme has faced stiff criticism over the years, particularly when the £800m decrease at the end of 2014 brought the total for the year to £2bn.