Regional intermediary service for SMEs

The service, which is available via Business Link, provides intensive support for businesses encountering problems accessing finance once a need has been identified.

The free guidance and support is available in order to help forge stronger relationships between small businesses and banks.

According to the FPB’s recent Economic Downturn Panel survey, 66% of respondents said they would welcome more localised support from their banks. In addition, 61% want bank managers to better understand small businesses.

The FPB is urging lenders to pledge their support for the scheme. Figures suggest that many small businesses are reluctant to explore support schemes delivered by their banks out of fears of being classed as ‘high-risk’.

In all, 27% of respondents were concerned that applying for the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme – the Government’s high-profile lending guarantee package for small businesses – would encourage this perception. In addition, 20% feared that borrowing would be further restricted as a result of their application.

“The lack of availability of credit remains a concern and the cost of finance is still high. Many small firms are being rejected simply because of their size or industry sector,” said Nick Palin, the FPB’s Director of Finance. “The Business Link financial intermediary service, delivered locally and for eligible businesses, is a welcome step towards helping banks re-engage with their small business customers.

“We are calling on the banks to get behind this initiative publicly so that viable yet struggling business owners are encouraged to explore the help that is available.”