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Help to Buy accelerated; SME finance stuck in first gear

The government has accelerated the roll-out of the second phase of its Help to Buy mortgage scheme. However, despite news that SME confidence continues to grow, state efforts to improve access to SME finance are still struggling to get out of first gear.

Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) showing that SME confidence is at its highest since it launched its Small Business Index in 2010 suggest that businesses are feeling the benefit of the country’s gradual economic revitalisation. However, the decision to bring forward the introduction of the next stage of the Help to Buy scheme puts into sharp contrast the success of the government’s efforts to boost SME lending.

According to the FSB, over half of small businesses expect to see a growth in revenue in the last quarter of the year. Optimism is highest in the financial services, information technology and business services sectors, with confidence also higher in the manufacturing and construction industries.

However, could optimism be even higher if Funding for Lending and other government initiatives had the same impact on SME lending as they’ve had on mortgage lending? Would we be expecting more growth if traditional lenders’ caution had been more notably thawed?

Invoice finance-led alternative finance is playing an increasingly vital role in providing SME finance and enabling small businesses to generate start-up funding and raise capital to maintain flow, and the connection to growing confidence among SMEs is not hard to make.

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