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Access to lending drives faster SME growth rates

Small and medium-sized businesses grow progressively faster as their ability to borrow increases, according to new research.

SMEs with access to higher levels of borrowing grew their turnover on average by 15.7% over the past five years, compared with 14% growth for those with no borrowing according to new research by Funding Options.

The online funding supermarket says that slower growth as a result of inability to borrow sufficiently could have cost the UK economy as much as £2.9 billion of potential turnover in the past five years from SMEs.

Funding Options polled 25,000 small and medium-sized private businesses. It classes "high borrowing" companies as those with a debt level above 50% of the value of the business's assets. Companies in the "no borrowing" category have borrowing of less than 10% of the value of the business's assets.

Conrad Ford, CEO of Funding Options said: 

"This research shows in stark terms just how much growth small businesses have missed out on over the past five years, simply because they have not been able to borrow on the scale they need."
He added: "Having weathered the worst of the recession, many smaller businesses are now seeking to expand and need access to finance to achieve that, but their growth is being hampered by a lack of appetite for lending among some high street banks. That's why every small business in the country needs to know where it can go next if its bank says no."

Recent research by Funding Options also shows that the overdraft facilities available to SMEs have been withdrawn at the rate of £5 million per day since 2011. This, it says, has acted as a substantial roadblock to growth.

Alternative financing solutions for SMEs include leasing and invoice finance as well as peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding.

Ford said: "There is a whole universe of alternative finance options for SMEs, which can be tailored to fit their size, their sector, and where they are in their life cycle. For some, that will mean invoice finance to provide working capital, and for others an asset finance deal to get the cutting-edge equipment they need."

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