The autumn statement is upon us and the country is eagerly waiting decisions on small business lending, with recent pressures and initiatives demanding a clear Government plan for growth. Clear signals need to be communicated in this statement; otherwise
more businesses will be left on the sidelines once again. We have seen many policies come and go which have lacked impact and results – a collection of patchwork initiatives which solely relied on an antiquated banking system that cannot stand-up to scrutiny.
Given this, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is proposing that tough decisions be made in the autumn statement to prioritise growth without influencing the deficit reduction programme, overtly pushing the SME role as critical to driving the economic
recovery. The Federation of Small Businesses agrees with the BCC and is now calling for the Government to encourage more competition amongst banks to stimulate borrowing.
I will not argue against the economic ideals put forward here - small businesses are definitely critical pillars to ensuring we transition into a healthier set of economic circumstances- but should we rely on a weakened banking distribution channel alone
to inject life back into the economy?
Let’s look at the facts. A survey of 30,000 UK SMEs has recently been released outlining the pessimism in small business borrowing, falling to its lowest since 2010, with 57% of respondent neither borrowing nor intending to borrow. A key reason for this
was pinned on the perceptions of the banks, entrepreneurs believing applications will inevitably result in a “computer says no” response.
Undeniably, the Government has a lot to do to jointly raise the perception of the banks and ensure their lending schemes get into gear. This is why the autumn statement should consider collaborative efforts with alternative regulated providers, which offer
innovative, streamlined services and money-saving opportunities, alleviating the responsibilities placed on the five incumbent banks. The Government has to implement immediate policies and not repeat previous unsuccessful ventures – the perfect, opportune
time for the Government to review the impact alternative providers can have on business prosperity.