South East regional minister Jonathan Shaw has called on companies to engage in a dialogue with the banks about how to access the finances they need to emerge stronger from the economic downturn.
Speaking at the South East Economic Delivery Council, which brings together regional and local leaders from business, government and the third sector, the Minister (pictured) said access to finance was essential for companies’ future success.
NatWest and RBS chairman for small businesses Peter Ibbetson told the council that the bank was providing new loans to more than 5,000 businesses a week.
Mr Shaw said: "It is absolutely essential that businesses in the South East are able to access the finance they need in order to grow and invest. I urge all banks to open their doors to this region’s businesses, and to provide the levels of custom and service that we would all expect. I would also encourage businesses to be on the front foot in talking to their banks."
Government support available to businesses includes:
- The Time to Pay scheme, which has seen payment of £576 million of tax revenue deferred across the region;
- Business Link health checks, of which there have been more than 16,200;
- The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which has produced more than 800 new loans to businesses in the South East totalling almost £83 million.
The minister’s call was backed by Federation of Small Businesses chairman Roger House. He said: “The FSB role is twofold: to ensure that action is taken where banks do not provide the levels of support and service that we should expect, and to work with our businesses to support them in accessing the advice and help that is available, for example through Business Link. This meeting has helped us make progress on both fronts."
Mr Ibbetson said: “It is important we get the message over that we are open for business. It is important that businesses can feel confident in working with their banks, and that is why we are offering a combination of committed overdraft and a price promise, to show that we are open for business.”