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More business funding is needed, but where can we get it?

More business funding is needed, but where can we get it?

Vince Cable, the business secretary, says that banks are making it harder for small firms to apply for loans despite claims from the semi-nationalised banks that they approve at least 80% of loan applications.

Stephen Pegge, the chairman of the small business panel at the British Bankers’ Association, claims other business bank accounts are also matching this rate.

Mr Cable said these claims are misleading and cited proof from business industry bodies such as the Institute of Directors that shows that the banks are not meeting demand.

The IoD recently published research which found that around 33% of UK businesses had been refused banks loans. However, there has been some improvement as similar research conducted last year found that 57% of businesses were refused finance.

The BBA has also released figures showing that net lending by the banks was at an all time low in May. £500m was lent to SMEs but the banks collected more than that in repaid debts and withdrawn overdrafts.

A consultation is to be launched this week to discuss business finance and it will consider whether there would be any benefit to be gained by forcing new targets on the two semi-nationalised banks; RBS and Lloyds. Cable thinks that mandatory action forcing the two banks to make more finance available could be an attractive option.

However, the Labour government was unable to force Lloyds and RBS to meet lending targets to limited company contractors even though they were legally binding and a spokesman from the Treasury said that the coalition was still considering whether a new target based option would be effective.

The consultation will also look at other business financing alternatives. The coalition has already said that using equity finance could be one possible option. Currently only between 1 and 2% of SMEs use this option and the financial secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, says that the majority of small businesses are missing an opportunity. To encourage more freelancers and SMEs to take up the option, Vince Cable also suggested recreating 3i, a private equity organisation which provided equity for small, expanding businesses.

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Image: Seed Money by teamjenkins

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