Posted by

Suren Thiru, UK Economic Advisor

13 Feb 2013

At the end of January, the BCC hosted a roundtable discussion between Chamber members and the Shadow Business and Economics team, including the Shadow Chancellor Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna MP. This presented a fantastic opportunity to discuss the issues facing businesses over access to finance, as well as the role that the recently announced British Business Bank should play in helping businesses.

The event was put into sharp focus by the release of the lending data from the Bank of England earlier in the day.  This revealed that lending to businesses had fallen by almost £19bn in 2012, double the decline in 2011.

This backdrop certainly made for a lively discussion, with those around the table helping to crystallise the problems facing firms looking to gain access to finance. The overriding theme that came out of the exchange was the breakdown in the relationship between the banking sector and British business. This mirrored the BCC's recent access to finance survey, which showed that fully half of firms mistrust banks and building societies, and that more needs to be done to restore trust in the banking system. Business people were particularly vocal on the need for banks to improve contact at a local level, particularly when it comes to understanding the businesses that they are working with.

The British Chambers of Commerce will continue to campaign for better access to finance for UK firms through both our research and lobbying activities across the political spectrum. We will also keep the pressure on policymakers to deliver the right type of Business Bank to ensure that viable firms around the country have the right access to the credit they need to fulfil their potential.