Banks crush push by builders to create jobs

Aaron Morby 13 years ago

Small and medium-sized builders have challenged banks’ claims that they are lending once again.

A survey of firms in the country’s largest building trade body, the Federation of Master Builders, found that nearly six out of 10 building firms have seen their banking terms altered for the worse.

A similar proportion, who had approached their banks to back growth plans, could not get funding to create jobs.

The firms have dismissed as false claims by the banking industry that they are now striving to meet their obligations under the terms of the so-called Project Merlin.

Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said: “Despite the new figures on lending through Project Merlin showing that the UK’s major banks lent £18.8bn to SMEs in the third quarter of this year, our members are telling us they are still finding it difficult to access finance.”

“More than 57% of respondents to our recent survey reported that the bank that provides their credit facilities had made some form of adverse change to their lending policy towards the firm, either by withdrawing credit facilities or by increasing the cost of them.”

He warned: “Another separate survey, carried out around the same time told us that nearly 40% of small building firms have seen their lending charges increase over the last year.

“It seems that the banks have decided that it is small businesses’ turn to pay for bonus season this year.”

The FMB said that The behaviour of the banks was completely unacceptable and was holding back delivery of growth and precious jobs for the economy.

Nearly 58% of surveyed firms had been unable to implement growth or investment plans because they were unable to raise the necessary funds from the bank.

Half the firms said responding said this meant they had been unable to implement expansion plans that would have created new jobs.”

“We are pleased that the Government has started to recognise that commercial lending isn’t working for UK businesses and has allocated £95m from Regional Growth Fund for grants to support SMEs.

“However, the majority of SMEs aren’t looking for £500,000 and a commercial loan on top.

“Instead, smaller businesses must be encouraged to approach the banks responsible for distributing the fund so they can start to help repair some of the damage done by the financial crisis.”

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