THE BLOG

British Business Needs Rescuing, and the Government Isn't Up to the Challenge

05/06/2013 17:35 BST | Updated 05/08/2013 10:12 BST

To say it's been a tough time for British business in an understatement.

Finance channels have been squeezed as lending to businesses contracts and banks place tighter restrictions on credit conditions.

Official figures tell us lending to small business has plummeted 25% since 2009.

Entrepreneurs are increasingly reliant on overdrafts, credit cards, personal savings and loans from friends and family to support their start-up enterprises, and free up cashflow as debtor companies take longer than ever to pay.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but government schemes designed to help British businesses access much-needed finance are either not delivering, or not materialising. But British businesses don't need ethereal solutions, they need cash, and fast.

Vince Cable's Business Bank, with £4bn at its disposal to boost smaller firms, is an exciting prospect but proving slow to materialise. It's still in the idea phase.

The Business Bank needs a better marketing campaign to reach business owners that could benefit from this pot of cash, and the terms and conditions need to be outlined. The criteria are still far too vague.

But there is hope the Business Bank, which channels funds from private investors as well as the state, will deliver on its promise and - after the massive failure of the Funding for Lending Scheme - hope is needed.

While the FLS got the banks to offer more mortgages, Britain's businesses have been sorely let down. Month after month Bank of England data shows lending to business plummeting further and further. Conventional banks are simply not lending to businesses, or setting such prohibitive lending criteria that businesses would be made to sign on the dotted line.

It's clear the government is yet to offer a solution that is workable for businesses right now.

On the upside, the alternative finance market is growing, but entrepreneurs must do their research and tread carefully.

For many businesses, attracting private investment is the only viable option, and allows companies to benefit from the expertise of the investor too. VCs are rescuing British businesses, because it's quite clear the government is not yet up to the challenge.