UK Small Business Investments 2023-24 — FSB Releases Credit Confidence Report Findings

UK’s small firms don't know where to look for funding opportunities, FSB says.

January 5, 2023
UK Small Business Investments 2023-24 — FSB Releases Credit Confidence Report Findings
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

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The majority of UK small businesses are unaware of available funding options.

Yet most small companies will have invested in their firm by 2024, according to new statistics, however, fewer than half of these companies think that they have a comprehensive grasp of the different financing options accessible to them.

This comes from the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which has produced a new study titled “Credit Where Credit's Due” which aggregated data portraying a troubling picture of the availability of capital for UK small companies and advocate for action to avoid credit flow suddenly bottlenecking, as we witnessed after the 2007 credit collapse and as might repeat if left unchecked.

The particular circumstances of the pandemic led to a spike in the proportion of firms seeking debt for the first time. This contributed to the current banking recession and the majority of small businesses (nearly two-thirds) seeking finance during the last half-decade. SMBs have accrued an extra £36B in debt since January 2020, following Covid restrictions which were strict in Britain.

To survive, small companies are seeking fast access to financing. Due to issues with the operational fees of running a business, issues with supply chains and transport, as well as skyrocketing energy costs, and the persistent issue of delayed payments, small businesses may need access to a strong range of financing options in order to endure.

Uncertainty About Funding and Investment Opportunities

Loans are popular with many small businesses, yet just 31% of company owners say it is easy to receive help with credit applications, and roughly 30% believe that unfair terms and limits have been implemented.

Prior to the introduction of Covid loans, over two-thirds (64%) of all financing applications were granted. In the third quarter of 2022, since things have become tighter, the number of financing requests that were approved dropped to below half. The FSB's data demonstrates that the smaller a firm is, the less likely it is that its funding request would be approved.

Nearly one-third of small firms that requested funding during the third quarter of 2022 were given a 10% rate or greater, and this trend is anticipated to remain.

Martin McTague, the national chairman of the FSB, observed, “Small businesses who lack access to finance are deprived of growth and expansion opportunities.” Indeed, it's that simple.

He also stated that the United Kingdom cannot repeat the credit crunch when a decrease in entrepreneurs' and company owners' access to credit rendered them unable to operate and exacerbated the country's financial difficulties.

McTauge feels that owing to Covid's deficit, the BoE's baseline rate hikes, and the dwindling and rising cost of accessible financing sources, a large number of small businesses are now in a precarious position.

Outlook for Small Business Credit

If the present avalanche of events is allowed to snowball, McTague's study provides a grim outlook.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, according to the FSB chairman, because he believes that authorities can do a great deal to improve the financial climate for small businesses, thus enabling the return of some useful cashflow into organisations that exhibit significant development potential.

Amending the ill-advised proposal to restrict R&D tax credits would send a strong signal that the authorities are listening to the needs of small business owners and are supporting the tremendous willingness for hard work.

McTague argues that this recent declaration on late payments is a start in the right direction, but that more must be done. Chiefly, the primary auditing organisations of major firms should be required to provide information on supply chain payment procedures in their yearly reports. Speed is called for rather than long reviews.

Ultimately, small companies need preventative safeguards so that they will not suffer uncontained hazards if they attempt to invest in growing their operations through new infrastructure or hires.

The government has some responsibility for putting plans into effect and distributing crucial funds to small and medium-sized enterprises that will transform these ideas into usable goods, new employment, and setups, thus so bringing renewed hope of economic resiliency. 

McTague concludes by stating that he has crafted a comprehensive programme that will transform the available funding options for small firms, so reviving economic momentum and assisting company owners.

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