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More Than Half of UK SMEs Believe Access to Finance Will Become Harder

The need for UK SME business owners to build and execute a competitive growth strategy to thrive in the tough economic environment is a pressing issue. Yet more than half (57 per cent) lack confidence in their ability to deliver, according to Nucleus Commercial Finance

The credit environment will be challenging for the foreseeable. Over the next three years, almost half (46 per cent) of SMEs believe accessing credit/finance/borrowing will get more difficult. This level of perceived difficulty rises to 64 per cent for those working in the hospitality, food/drink, retail, and wholesale sectors.

Many hoped for help from the government. But the findings reveal that UK SMEs have been left unsatisfied by the initiatives and plans set out so far. Asked about the reforms recently announced by the government, over half (57 per cent) of SMEs believe these will have zero or a negative impact on their business.

In terms of what SMEs want the government to prioritise to help their businesses, lowering business rates (41 per cent) came top, followed by reducing VAT (39 per cent), extending the energy support scheme for businesses (34 per cent) and offering interest free loans to struggling small-medium sized businesses (31 per cent). Just seven per cent of businesses said that the government should prioritise loosening workers’ rights and protections.

What should be the government’s priorities to help businesses
Lower business rates


Reducing V.A.T39%
Extending the energy support scheme for businesses34%
Offer interest free loans to struggling small-medium sized businesses31%
Provide more support for businesses to access new technologies20%
Capping commercial rent20%
Provide greater support for businesses to embrace open finance19%


This means that successful growth strategies will be even more important for UK SMEs to not just survive but thrive. When asked to would be most beneficial to implementing a successful growth strategy for the next three years, it was having better access into the financial decisions and trends across their industry (24 per cent) and having more up-to-date technology infrastructure (24 per cent).

Chirag Shah, CEO and founder of Nucleus Commercial Finance commented: “At a time when business costs are continuing to rise and the economic outlook is far from promising, UK SMEs are calling out for more support. For the sector to not only survive over the next 6 to 12 months, but to thrive, it is imperative that they have better access to more holistic support.

“With so many harbouring significant growth ambitions over the next three years, there is a big gap to close to ensure SME owners can actually achieve these objectives. By taking advantage of innovative data-led insight, businesses can chart a realistic but ambitious growth strategy for the future.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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