Banks and Government failing small firms

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bank Business Small business

Banks and Government failing small firms
Government and banks should do more to support small business, according to a new survey from the Forum for Private Business (FPB).

Government and banks should do more to support small business, according to a new survey from trade group the Forum for Private Business (FPB).

Not a single respondent to the FPB's survey believes bank support has improved recently - half said it is the same and half believe it has got worse.

Despite its raft of measures to stimulate lending to small businesses, 59% say that support from the Government has not improved and 35% believe it has deteriorated. Only 5% of respondents to the panel believe the Government is providing them with better support.

The survey follows reports in the MA of licensees saying their banks have blanket policies of not lending to pubs.

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, which is open to pubs and sees the Government guarantee 75% of loans in a move to encourage more lending by banks, was criticised.

In all, 54% of respondents are concerned at the lack of information about the scheme and 32% believe there is too much bureaucracy associated with it.

In addition, 27% believe their bank will demand further security and 27% believe lenders will demand additional fees. Also, 27% think that inquiring about the scheme will lead to their business being seen as 'high risk'.

In addition, 81% of the small businesses surveyed report no change in the terms and conditions of overdrafts and 16% saw a deterioration. Just 3% believe overdrafts have improved.

Significantly, 24% of respondents reported an increase in banking fees, including arrangement fees and transaction fees. Increasing charges on overdrafts were of particular concern.

FPB chief executive Phil Orford said the survey "highlights the continued disparity between falling interest rates and the actual cost and availability of credit".

"Our members believe that they are perceived as high risk and that their banks are taking advantage by keeping rates high, increasing charges and requiring more security."

One unnamed member of the FPB had his overdraft rate increased from 3% to 7% above base rate.

"It's going to be interesting to see how the banks react long term. My rates have increased by 233%, compared to what they were before," he said.

"The Bank of England is reducing interest rates, but the banks are adding sly little charges. I blew my top with them because we've been with them for 30 years and we're a steady business. What they are doing is stupendous. I've had to make two of my staff redundant."

- Has your bank added extra charges or operating a blanket policy of not lending to pubs? Have you had success, or not, applying for loans via the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme? Email

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