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SME survey reveals financing drought which is stalling growth as RLS loan deadline passes

More than one in five (22%) small and medium sized enterprises (“SMEs”) that needed external finance and/or capital over the last couple of years were unable to access it.

Indeed, over a quarter (27%) have had to stop or pause an area of their business because of a lack of finance. This is according to new research commissioned by Manx Financial Group PLC (AIM:MFX), the financial services group which includes, amongst other operating subsidiaries, Conister Bank Limited (“Conister”), Conister Finance & Leasing Limited and Blue Star Business Solutions Limited.

The research showed that the biggest barriers faced by SMEs in sourcing external finance/and or capital were that it was too expensive (23%), the process took too long (19%) and that there was a lack of flexibility with repayment terms (17%). SMEs also cited other barriers such as the fact that the lender didn’t understand their business (16%) and that they received poor customer care (10%).

The research also revealed that SMEs have been forced to pause or stop activities such as expanding into new markets, hiring the right personnel and marketing, because of lack of financing. Manufacturing, Finance & Accounting, Retail and IT & Telecoms were the sectors that were affected the most because of a lack of external finance and/ or capital.

Over the next 12 months, nearly two in five (38%) SMEs believe Sales will be the biggest areas of business that will see growth followed by recruitment (19%), new product development (18%) and new market expansion (17%).

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The research also highlighted that a third (34%) of SMEs are concerned that their business will not grow in the next 12 months. However, with appropriate external finance, SMEs on average believe their business could grow by around 17%.

Douglas Grant, CEO of Manx Financial Group PLC said, “The research sadly reveals what we have been observing for some time – that SMEs continue to struggle with accessing finance and that worryingly, this lack of availability will cost them and the UK economy in terms of growth at a time when it is needed the most. The amount of growth that is being sacrificed is however significant and will require new solutions which are designed to address this funding gap.”

On 6 April 2021 the Recovery Loan Scheme (“RLS”) was launched. A new Government-backed initiative designed to help facilitate businesses’ recovery and growth after the disruption caused by Covid-19, allowing firms of any size and sector to apply for funding of up to £10 million from accredited lenders.

Conister was approved in August 2021 as a British Business Bank accredited lender for the RLS. It enabled Conister to extend the support it has provided to SMEs throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme deadline is today (30 June) meaning capital-starved SMEs, still recovering and adapting to a post-pandemic landscape, will need to source alternative forms of lending.

Some sectors of the economy are recovering more rapidly than others. For those still struggling sectors, they require an additional government intervention, but for the remainder, no further Government intervention is necessary.

Grant added, “We were delighted to have been accredited for the RLS last year. The programme provided the necessary catalyst that many sectors required to thrive.

“However, this lifeline is now going and demand for working capital is set to soar to new highs as more businesses desperately require liquidity provisions to counteract record inflation levels, rising interest rates, supply chain issues, increases in wages and additional pandemic-induced headwinds. With the cost of borrowing set to increase, many SMEs are facing their own cost of living crisis.

“A sector focused government-backed loan scheme which brings together both traditional and alternative lenders to guarantee the future of our SMEs in struggling sectors, is critical to ensure that opportunities for their growth are not missed. We very much hope this is something that becomes a reality.

“In the meantime, all SMEs would be well-advised to take stock of their current capital structures and, if appropriate, access fixed term, fixed rate loans to prevent additional exposure to an increasingly volatile lending market.”

By Lib Finance Reporter

Source: London Loves Business

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Small and medium sized Kent businesses supported in moving to green

Kent County Council (KCC) has launched a new voucher scheme to enable local businesses to implement green solutions to help with future growth.

The Green Recovery Voucher Scheme is part of the C-Care (Covid Channel Area Response Exchange) project which is funded by the EU Interreg France (Channel) England programme.

C-Care represents a total of €6.7million package of covid-recovery support from the European Regional Development Fund. The overall project aims to support businesses and individuals at risk of exclusion on both sides of the Channel. In Kent the focus is on business support and this new scheme is being launched as a method to help businesses bounce back and become more resilient.

The Green Recovery Voucher Scheme can help firms build back from the pandemic in a way which is sustainable for the environment. They can redeem a voucher worth up to £1,500 for green goods and services in the following areas:

  • Design, supply and installation of energy efficiency measures.
  • Review, development and supply of waste reduction interventions.
  • Review, development and supply of sustainable transport solutions.
  • Design, supply and installation of biodiversity solutions.
  • ‘Net Zero’ transition planning.

Services will be provided to Kent businesses by a framework of approved green service providers which is also benefiting a number of firms across the county.

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The scheme is targeted at Kent businesses which have been impacted by the pandemic and which can demonstrate how adopting new green solutions will help them recover and grow in a more sustainable and economical way.

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Susan Carey, said: “Part of Kent’s identity is our strong network of small and medium enterprises.

“The Green Recovery Voucher Scheme is key to supporting firms to build back from the pandemic in a way which is sustainable for the environment.

“This is a fantastic initiative to look into at a time when profit margins are being squeezed and I would encourage business owners to see how this could help them.”

The voucher scheme is now live and will run until March 2023, or until the voucher budget has been fully allocated. Certain eligibility criteria apply, and companies can obtain more information by visiting where they can apply and request an initial consultation with an advisor.

The Green Recovery Voucher scheme is being run by the Sustainable Business & Communities Team at Kent County Council, alongside a suite of other sustainable grant programmes available to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) within Kent. For further information on the teams’ projects, visit the Low Carbon Kent website:

By Ellis Stephenson

Source: KCC Media Hub

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UK ranks second for business startup financing

UK startups raised more cash in early 2022 than counterparts in China, France or India, and were surpassed only by the US, data showed.

The figures from data provider Dealroom were published alongside the UK government’s new digital strategy on the first day of London Tech Week.

UK startups raised a record $11.3 billion in venture capital in the first three months of the year, according to Dealroom.

And they raised $15.6bn in the five months to the end of May, half of which was from the technology sector.

This performance was dwarfed by $123.4bn in the US, but beat $11.8bn in China and $14.8bn in India.

“So far this year, the UK has raised more venture capital than any other country in the world apart from the United States, overtaking both India and China compared to full year 2021 rankings,” Dealroom said in a statement.

The performance marked a “record quarter” for the industry, despite a “turbulent start to the year for global markets” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Dealroom.

The data provider added that Britain currently has 122 “unicorn” businesses — technology firms that are worth more than $1bn.

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Technology minister Chris Philp, unveiling the government’s new digital strategy at London Tech Week, said its goal was cement Britain’s place as a “global tech superpower”.

“In the last five years the UK has raced ahead of Europe to become a global tech leader and now we’re setting the course for the future,” Philp said in a speech at the industry event.

“The digital strategy is the roadmap we will follow to strengthen our global position as a science and technology superpower.”


Source: gg2

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April GDP: “No time to start a trade war” say financial experts

With today’s ONS April GDP data proving that the UK economy is under some serious pressure, financial experts and advisers share their views on the data with IFA Magazine.

Philip Dragoumis, owner of Thera Wealth Management: “These numbers still don’t fully include the cost of living crisis and its effect on consumer spending, which means a sharper contraction – and potentially recession – is to come in the months ahead. Any additional rate rises should now be put on hold and there is an argument, too, for easing tax rises. Also, this is no time to start a trade war with Europe over the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

Marcus Wright, MD of Bolton Business Finance: “If the Government wants to stop a recession, then we need action quick. SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and they need help, especially with fuel and energy bills. With inflation still a concern, the Government needs to drastically cut spending to free up fiscal space to cut tax and VAT for our small businesses. It’s a difficult tight rope to walk but we need decisive action very quickly.”

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Adrian Kidd, chartered wealth manager at Aylesbury-based EQ Financial Planning: “Sadly, there is not much that can be done about the current economic situation we’re in. Central banks globally have failed in their inflation management, money printing and interest rate policies. They are now caught between two policy errors which are not putting rates up enough to curb inflation and putting up rates too much to push us into recession.”

Graham Cox, founder of the Bristol-based broker, “The economic situation is dire. We need further emergency measures to prevent a prolonged and deep recession. If I was in Rishi Sunak’s shoes, I’d reinstate the £20 increase in Universal Benefit, remove the 5% VAT on gas, and slash VAT on everything else to 10% until we’re out the woods. That would help consumer confidence and bring forward spending on high ticket items, giving a major boost to economic growth.”

By Rebecca Tomes

Source: IFA Magazine

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HSBC new £750m funding to back Welsh SMEs

HSBC has confirmed £750m of new funding to support the growth of SMEs in Wales.

The bank has ringfenced the finance for Wales as part of a £15bn commitment to support SMEs across the UK.

It also includes ringfenced funding from businesses trading internationally (£2bn), in the agriculture sector (£1.2bn) the tech sector (£500m) and franchise businesses (£500m).

Since launching a SME fund in 2014, HSBC has lent more than £90bn.

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Peter McIntyre, head of business banking at HSBC UK, said: “SMEs are vital to the UK economy, and our customers have told us they are ready to invest for growth. The £15bn fund will help businesses to expand internationally, as well as here in the UK, supporting key sectors and driving investment across the regions and nations.

Small Business Minister, Paul Scully said: “This new fund puts HSBC on course to have lent more than £100bn to UK small businesses within a decade, which is a great milestone for HSBC and even better for the communities across the country being helped to thrive

“This extra funding builds on the support available through government schemes like Help to Grow and Start Up Loans to help small businesses grow and reach their full potential.”

By Sion Barry

Source: Business Live

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A third of SMEs were denied access to finance last year

A third of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who sought access to finance were rejected last year.

Smart payments platform Yolt has found that SMEs lost an estimated £3.7bn in potential funding over the course of 2021.

The average SME sought to borrow £331,275 in financing to help grow their business, however, on average, small businesses only managed to borrow approximately £50,000 less than this.

Leaders of small businesses which were denied funding cited the age of their business (31 per cent), the levels of existing business debt (22 per cent) and the lack of sufficient collateral (20 per cent) as factors in the decision.

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Medium-sized businesses (50-250 employees) were the most likely to be refused for funding (56 per cent).

Even among the successful candidates, only one in five SMEs described the process of borrowing as easy, and less than 10 per cent felt the process was low effort or made effective use of technology.

Small business leaders said that they are very open to using technology to refine the borrowing process, with two-thirds (66 per cent) willing to securely share their bank account data to improve their chances of borrowing money.

This follows previous Yolt research which found that the sharing of data via open banking technology could significantly increase approvals and reduce the processing time of SME borrowing by 85 per cent, benefitting both the lender and recipient.

“SMEs represent the foundation for a thriving economy, in the UK they represent 99 per cent of all private sector businesses; as such, it’s important we nurture SME growth,” said Nicolas Weng Kan, chief executive at Yolt.

“Traditional borrowing, limited as it is, can make access to finance difficult. This can impede growth and make it hard for small businesses to achieve their true potential.

“We can see a clear desire from small business leaders in our research to use the power of their data and insight to allow for more accurate decisioning when it comes to borrowing money; open banking is the solution to this.

“By employing open banking technology, lenders can get a clearer picture of a business’ behaviours and can then provide financing with far more confidence: it’s not about taking on extra risk but accessing a great level of insight.

“This technology also makes the application process quicker and automated, allowing for efficiencies on both sides.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: p2p Finance News