SMEs still struggling for cash

UK growth prospects has taken another dent from a new report claiming SME lending remains weak. A British Bankers Association/research house BDRC Continental report claims 28% of SMEs continue to get outright loan rejections. Which sounds a reasonable pass rate - until you realise it was under 5% back in 2007.

The bank of family & friends

Another worrying stat to come out of this report - based on 5,000 companies with less than 250 employees - is that around 15% of SMEs had thought of applying for cash, but hadn't bothered.

There will be a variety of reasons - time and cost involved, typically - here but factor that mistrust into the picture and the overall rejection rate is even worse.

BDRC Continental director Shona Williams remains confident for larger players though. "Bigger SMEs are more likely to be offered what they want. For overdrafts, 83% of applicants with 10-249 employees got what they wanted straight away against 71% of those with nine or fewer employees."

Mentors needed

SME bank funds isn't needed just for expansion. Cashflow is a huge problem for many SMEs, and the need to continue trading.

Last week the Federation of Small Businesses claimed just 20% of small SMEs had contacted a bank for finance - and a third of those had their application refused. Those figures appear to agree with this new survey.

New online government initiatives like may be useful props for some SMEs (backed by a rash of blue-chip banking names including HSBC). But mentoring isn't cash.

What about, in the meantime, some SME mentoring for banks? How many bank small business advisers have actually run a business themselves?

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