Bank funding flop hits one in four building firms

Aaron Morby 11 years ago
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One in four small and medium-sized building firms have missed out on contracts because they can’t secure vital funding.

And according to a new survey many claim banks and building societies are “actively discriminating” against construction companies, despite Government efforts to boost lending to the industry.

The latest figures show the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme is failing to support construction, as lending fell significantly in the last three months of 2012.

Trade body, the Federation of Master Builders has urged ministers to act, citing the results of its own major survey of more than 1,000 firms, which clearly show the ongoing restriction of finance to SME construction businesses.

More than 40% of construction SMEs surveyed said they had found it harder to gain access to finance in the past two years, while 43% reported that credit is more expensive than two years ago and a quarter were subject to increased charges for credit facilities.

The survey also confirmed widespread fears that banks are actively discriminating against construction firms.

One in four reported they had lost work as a result, and 16% said they had been refused requests for credit by a bank that had previously considered them trustworthy – explicitly because they work in the construction industry.

Of those surveyed, 25% reported they had lost business or had to abandon plans for growth or investment because they were unable to raise the necessary funds, and nearly one in five said that the number of staff they were able to employ had fallen as a direct result.

The FMB has now written to Michael Fallon, the Business and Enterprise Minister, calling on him to end this discrimination against construction firms and boost the beleaguered sector.

Brian Berry, the FMB’s Chief Executive, said: “What we are seeing is that otherwise viable and successful firms cannot access suitable finance for business operations, including buying new equipment and plant. This is having a serious knock-on effect on jobs and growth in the sector.”

“The fall in net lending by banks under the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme comes as no surprise.

“SMEs and the construction industry are continually touted as the drivers of economic recovery but, without access to finance, the sector will continue to decline.”

“If the Funding for Lending figures don’t improve significantly in the first quarter of 2013, the Government needs to urgently explore alternative vehicles to improve the flow of finance to construction SMEs.”

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