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Opportunity for lenders to do more to satisfy demand for finance from SME community

Following a recent report that lending to SMEs fell by close to a tenth between 2014 and 2018, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing has said it is determined to play its part to reverse the trend and ensure the health of a sector that accounts for 60% of employment in the UK.  

“Our own research of 1,000 SMEs tells us that 40% of firms have missed a business opportunity in the last 12 months due to lack of available finance,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing. “This rises to 68% for London businesses, and as a key economic region of the UK, this is particularly concerning.

“This is despite a very real appetite for investing – 62% of business owners polled said they plan to seek funding for business investment in the coming 12 months.

“We’re very much open for business and carefully consider every application we receive from both new and existing customers. Despite the fluctuating economic conditions the UK’s experienced over the past few years, we’ve consistently grown our loan book and attract new customers in the sectors we service, which speaks to our willingness to keep supporting the UK’s small to medium enterprises.”  

According to the Federation of Small Businesses:

  • At the start of 2019 there were 5.82 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees), 99.3% of the total business. SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population (5.9 million businesses). 
  • SMEs account for three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.
  • Total employment in SMEs was 16.6 million (60% of the total), with turnover estimated at £2.2 trillion (52%)