BBA Calls For SME Lending Boost

Organisation Wants More SMEs To Be Aware Of Access To Credit

27.01.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) has called for lending to SMEs to be boosted, as it emerges few small businesses are aware of the credit opportunities available.

A new campaign from the group highlights that while 37 per cent of startups or medium-sized companies are planning to use loans or other lending arrangements in the coming months, the number that could be eligible for this kind of support is actually around 67 per cent.

This money can be used for any purpose - whether it be expanding into new premises or hiring new staff - and with the economy looking like it will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, it can often seem wise for businesses to seek a loan.

But, as experts state, there are a number of risks to this approach - especially given the dramatic and rapid manner in which the UK's financial markets collapsed in the 2008 crisis.

BBA chief executive Anthony Browne rejects these fears and wants SMEs to feel assured that they have access to financing deals from large high street banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Santander.

He explained: "We've launched this campaign to let businesses know that they are a lot more likely to get finance than they think.

"Small businesses are the engine room of the economy and the research we publish today shows how much stronger our recovery could be if more SMEs approached their banks for finance."

Mr Browne added that this matters a lot to SMEs because more money means "more orders for equipment, more new jobs and more plans to expand".

Indeed, statistics released by the BBA show that if all the businesses eligible for loans and other credit made use of deals from large retail banks, some 16,000 companies would be able to improve their offerings to customers.

A further 113,000 firms would have the opportunity to boost their spending power, the BBA study found.

Expert Opinion
Access to finance remains a live issue for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to take their latest ventures to the next step and this research is not the first to identify that such start-ups may not be taking advantage of some of the opportunities which are available to them.

"More needs to be done to promote and share information on these key issues with small firms, so they are able to not only consider their ambitions in terms of growth but also the financial options they can use to achieve such objectives.

"We would urge small businesses to ensure they get specialist financial advice in this regard, as well as speaking to legal experts who will be able to explain the finer details of agreements that may be made. Having the right support in your corner can help to mitigate some of the inevitable growing pains that small businesses can face."
Steven Beahan, Partner