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Invoice finance vital to nurturing SME growth in 2013

Confidence continues to build among SMEs and recent developments have underlined the role that alternative SME finance services such as invoice finance have to play in nurturing growth.

The long-awaited news from the Business Secretary regarding the delivery date for the British Business Bank – its doors will swing open in the second half of 2014 – will feed the cautious optimism that has been developing gradually among small businesses in 2013.

The latest SME Manufacturing Survey, compiled by Worthing tax advisers Carpenter Box for accountancy trade association MHA, has provided further evidence of this optimism. The report has shown that almost one third of South Coast manufacturing and engineering businesses expect growth of at least ten per cent in 2013.

Much hope is being pinned on the new bank, which Vince Cable promises will focus on simplification and competition. Significantly, the move marks the growing shift away from traditional lenders: alternative finance has been a crucial source of competition and straightforward small business funding in recent years and the British Business Bank is set to complement this growing sector.

Notably, the bank will not lend directly to small businesses but will offer advice on suitable facilities and schemes, and this is where the engagement with alternative finance may take place. The alternative finance sector has flourished over the last five years, led by transparent, easy-to-use and affordable invoice finance.

That optimism is growing is good news, but it has to be nurtured. The new bank should provide a welcome shot in the arm but, more tellingly, its structure emphasizes the wider role of services such as invoice finance in facilitating small business growth in the future.

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