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SMEs: Not banking on finance

Quarter 4, 2023

“The reality is that there is an abundance of financing options available if SMEs are open to looking beyond bank-loans and overdrafts. Gone are the days when high street lenders need to be the first and only port of call.”Derek Ryan, UK Managing Director, Bibby Financial Services

As we enter the final months of the year, it’s even clearer that 2023 has been another turbulent period for the UK economy. Stubborn inflation - driven in part by energy bills - together with the highest interest rates in 15 years, have created a harsh environment for even the most resolute of businesses.

Our latest SME Confidence Tracker findings highlight an array of challenges facing UK PLC in 2023, no more so than in accessing finance to grow and operate effectively.

More than two-thirds (67%) of SME owners and decision makers believe banks are less prepared to lend to them today. Further still, of those using external finance sources, 42 percent say their bank or financier has reduced their credit availability in the past six months. These are worrying stats and reflect the reappraising of credit appetites among traditional lending sources.

Download the latest SME Confidence Tracker

Key findings of our research among SMEs

  • 67% of UK SMEs say banks are less likely to lend to them today
  • More than half say accessing finance is more difficult than six months ago
  • 43% have an increased need for finance as costs continue to rise
  • Of those using external finance, 42% say lenders have reduced their availability
  • Despite the recent dip, 59% say inflation remains their greatest challenge today

What is the SME Confidence Tracker?

Launched in 2015, the SME Confidence Tracker is a regular study of SME owners and decision makers across the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport and services sectors.

The study is based on a poll of 500 UK SMEs, and tracks views of business owners on a range of subjects including current performance, legislation, Government policy and investment plans.

Download the SME Confidence Tracker
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