Opinion

The banks have to start lending again


Now and again I'm afraid to admit I catch the One Show on TV. Most of the time the programme seems to be full of items either promoting forthcoming programmes or helping keep an odd assortment of presenters employed.

But the other night a feature on how the lack of bank lending was impacting an electrical business proved to be more interesting. The cameras followed the last couple of hours as the boss, the accountant, a staff member and apprentice pulled the shutters down on an electrical firm.

An argument with the bank about a lending facility killed a business which was described as having orders on the books and a future.

The issue of banks lending to SMEs, and there are plenty in the channel, is one that has now been rumbling for three years. The bad taste that is left in the mouth by the banking bonuses is made worse by the knowledge that the purse strings are so tightly controlled when it comes to helping smaller companies.

The government, both Labour and now the coalition, have talked about the need to get banks lending again but it has not happened quickly enough. If the private sector is expected to lead and sustain the recovery then it needs support from the banks.

The tale on the One Show is not an isolated case and until the attitudes of the banks change things are going to remain difficult, almost unfairly so, for small firms.

This was first published in January 2011

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