Govt Called On To Rethink Approach To SME Support

Govt Called On To Rethink Approach To SME Support

Off the back of a new survey revealing that the vast majority of entrepreneurs here in the UK don’t think that the government is doing all it can to back small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the call has been made for Whitehall to rethink its approach with regards to the support provided.

Carried out by specialist bank Aldermore, the study found that 71 per cent of SMEs aren’t making use of government support and, perhaps even more interestingly, 36 per cent don’t know that government support even exists. Some 43 per cent have now called for better enterprise education and training.

And even when SMEs do try to make use of the support services available, only 24 per cent say they find it easy to locate information about certain schemes, while 22 per cent say they find it easy to work out who to contact for help. And just 19 per cent said they find it easy to access the schemes most relevant to their companies.

“Governments rightly recognise the key role that small businesses play as an engine of the economy – they represent five million enterprises employing over 15 million people in the UK. But our findings reveal that the current system of support suffers from needless complexity, low awareness and low-take up across the board. We believe the government needs to take a fresh approach with better targeted support and better publicity to increase awareness of what is available.

“There is a clear gap in the market for providing well-targeted small business support. We know from speaking with self-employed and SMEs that what they need are simple tax breaks, which are readily accessible. Over half of our small business respondents (53 per cent) believe that introducing a taxpayer-funded cash bonus to help them get started would help to fill that gap,” head of savings with Aldermore Ewan Edwards said.

When questioned about the kind of support they want, the majority of those asked said they wanted finance help, with 42 per cent saying better tax incentives and 39 per cent looking for improved rates on business loans.

Further research by Aldermore has also found that 23 per cent of SMEs have missed out on at least one new business opportunity in the last 12 months because of a lack of available funding. Medium-sized firms appear to be the worst hit, with 42 per cent saying they’ve been hit significantly by not having access to the funding they need, a rise of 32 per cent on last year’s figure.

Group managing director of business finance Carl D’Ammassa commented at the time that lenders need to work closely with SMEs so they can find solutions to their funding problems and are able to ensure that new business opportunities can be capitalised upon.

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