Poor access to finance is a ‘big barrier’ to growth for small firms

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Companies across the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire region are much more worried about access to finance than the national average.

That’s the view of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire region of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which reacted ‘cautiously’ to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

The FSB’s research states 40 per cent of its members in the region stated that access to finance is poor, compared with a national figure of 28 per cent. But on other measures, the picture is much more positive than the national average. Consumer demand is seen as less of a problem and only 9 per cent of businesses expect their revenue to decrease compared with a UK average of 16 per cent.

More than 60 per cent of firms also think that finance is unaffordable; this has increased each quarter in 2012. The FSB has vowed to keep a close eye on the government’s Funding for Lending scheme to make sure that small firms do get cheaper finance through it.

Charles Smith, chairman of the FSB for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire said: “We welcome yesterday’s statement and we are encouraged by the Chancellors’ acknowledgement that small businesses need more help.

“We accept that bold actions are needed to boost the economy and we hope we are on the right road to helping small businesses. The Chancellor has listened to many of our members’ concerns, and has put forward proposals to address these issues, notably around capital allowances, more encouragement for investors to place funding in small businesses, and cancelling the 3p rise in fuel duty.

“We now eagerly await further details on the small business bank which we have long seen as playing a central role in opening up finance for small firms.”

But he said he was disappointed that the Chancellor has not extended the current regional National Insurance Contributions holiday to all small firms across the UK and added thhat businesses in this region are missing out. The FSB believes that the NIC holiday could help create thousands of jobs across the country and add to the country’s wealth.