Small Construction Firms 'Struggle For Funding'

The FMB Claims Banks Are Not Lending Enough To Construction SMEs


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has claimed that banks and other financial institutions are not lending enough money to SMEs.

A survey conducted by the union has shown that 19 per cent of small companies in this sector are not able to get the money they need to expand and hire new staff. Officials at the organisation claim this is a government failing and that coalition ministers should resolve the situation as a matter of priority.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: "The danger is that the continuing refusal of the main high street banks to lend to viable building companies will hold back future growth for years to come."

Mr Berry added his union has repeatedly called on the government to change tack on its lending policy and do more to force banks to supplement the recovery of small and medium sized construction companies, who have found it hard to cope with increasing demand.

Indeed, a recent report from Deloitte shows the UK's real estate construction market is booming - especially in cities like Manchester, London and Glasgow - but despite this SMEs are not able to compete with larger builders because they cannot expand quickly enough.

Mr Berry claims a new approach backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband would help to alleviate the problem.

"Ed Miliband has helped place a focus on the major banks and their lending policies. Any measures which will improve the flow of funds on reasonable terms to small firms will be welcomed by the industry," Mr Berry concluded.

The Department for Business, Skills and Innovation has defended its record and claims it is working with banks like Santander, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland to help both consumers and businesses get the funding they need.

Officials at the FMB also recently called on the government to pump money into SME homebuilders, which it says would mitigate a homelessness crisis.

Expert Opinion
Another week and yet another study highlights some of the access to finance issues which small businesses in the UK are facing. Although this research is only focused on the construction sector, it reflects many of the issues we have seen across a number of industries.

"However, with the Government increasingly looking at this issue and launching initiatives to support the area, more and more support is becoming available. We would urge SMEs to carefully assess all of the options open to them and also seek professional advice on finance issues too.

"This should include getting good quality legal support from the outset."
Fergal Dowling, Partner