ALMOST a third of UK small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have found it harder to access finance over the past 12 months, new research has found.
Purbeck Insurance Services commissioned a Censuswide Survey of 500 owners and directors of UK SMEs.
56 per cent said the ability to access finance had stayed the same over the past year, while just 14 per cent said it had become easier.
Meanwhile, business conditions appear to be worsening for SMEs.
Two thirds of respondents said they had increasing uncertainty about the economy, while 59 per cent said exchange rate volatility had made their business harder.
Late payment issues have worsened for 27 per cent of SMEs, while 61 per cent said they have stayed the same.
When it comes to managing cashflow, 29 per cent of respondents said they were finding it more difficult than the previous year, while 53 per cent reported similar conditions.
“We welcome the government’s new proposals which include fines for larger businesses who pay their small business suppliers late and reforms to the Prompt Payment Code,” said Todd Davison, Director of Purbeck Insurance Services
“Late payment has a huge impact on cashflow – and poor cashflow kills businesses. Small businesses have simply lacked the muscle to make their larger customers pay on time and big businesses have used this to their advantage – we hope these measures will shift the balance of power.
“Access to funding is also major challenge for smaller businesses deemed to be a bigger risk to traditional lenders – this is despite a government initiative to ease the issue through the Bank Referral Scheme. When funding becomes a problem, cashflow dries up and late payment increases, creating a vicious circle where SMEs aren’t paid so stall payments themselves. However there are an increasing number of options available outside of traditional lenders so it’s vital they access expert advice to work out which finance solution is right for their business.”