Confidence among UK SMEs at three-year high but lending fears remain

18th October 2013

The UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) appear to be more confident about their business prospects than they have been at any time in the last three years, according to a survey by software firm, Sage.
 
While business confidence in Britain rose by 4.1 points in 2012 to 62.55 out of 100 - ahead of all the other euro zone countries surveyed including Germany, France, Portugal and Spain - more than half of British firms spoke of restricted access to financial support to aid growth, with 54 per cent saying banks were not doing enough.
 
Additionally, nearly three-quarters of UK respondents to the poll of more than 11,000 enterprises across 17 countries said the Government needed to do more to put pressure on lenders to give small firms the opportunity to expand organically.
 
Guy Berruyer, chief executive of Sage, believes that the encouraging news on the national economy, which includes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgrading its growth forecast earlier this month, had begun to filter down to the small business sector.
 
"However, if businesses are to take advantage of the upsurge of economic confidence, then they need access to a wide range of funding sources," he said.
 
"Confidence is returning; a lack of support and access to finance now for small businesses could have a detrimental effect."
 
The Bank of England has already voiced its concern over the lack of availability of loans for small businesses, believing the lack of credit has been holding Britain’s economic recovery back for some time.
 
The Government and Central Bank launched its Funding for Lending Scheme 12 months ago in a bid to make cheaper loans available to banks on the condition they lend it to households and small businesses, but there are questions surrounding the effectiveness of the scheme to date.
 
Nationally, total business lending fell by £3.8bn in August; the largest fall since December 2012. Lending to SMEs fell by nearly £700m in the same month.

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