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SMEs growth opportunities at risk without government attention

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With interest rates likely high for the foreseeable future, SMEs are reassessing their outlook and trying to set a clear course for the future.

But according to research from Simply Asset Finance, the specialist business lending provider, significant gaps remain around the support on offer.

Around two-thirds of UK SMEs want more resources and support to be made available to support them and their businesses. What is particularly worrying is the existence of such a clear awareness gap – almost half of SMEs admit that they don’t know where to look to find support for their business.

It is clear that the support currently on offer needs an overhaul. With the Autumn Statement round the corner, attention is shifting to what SMEs in all regions of the UK need to help their business not just survive but thrive.

Taking the time to listen to the UK’s businesses, their priorities are clear. The top policy that would have the most meaningful impact on businesses is more support for rising energy bills and other utility costs. But additional financial support, specifically, better accessibility to government grants or loans as well as a reduction in corporation tax/corporate tax relief complete the top three.

Then, when asked what government can do to specifically support growth itself, it’s local investment – more investment to support regional project work. But tax incentives are deemed crucial too, whether it’s on regional project work, on regional hiring work (28%), or on regional R&D work.

Mike Randall, CEO at Simply Asset Finance, said: “SMEs up and down the country are ready to seize on growth opportunities and be the engine of the UK’s economic recovery. But significant action is required to keep UK business on the right track and ensure they’re in a position to seize them. The Autumn Statement offers a valuable chance for the government to properly and substantively demonstrate their support for UK business.

“A significant and cost-effective step would be to simply make it easier for SMEs to invest in asset purchases. Just being able to expense it could have a transformative impact on businesses across the country. But with the scale of the challenge ahead, an extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme or a replacement with similar underlying aims would provide SMEs with real certainty, as well as the confidence to invest in their future.

“But the role of an experienced financial partner is critical too. Lenders need to step up service and work much harder to find and share ways to support SMEs, including by providing much needed clarity on the range of funding options available to fuel growth, such as asset finance. The scale of the growth opportunity is significant but turning potential into reality will require industry and government to pull in the same direction.”

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