Medium-Sized Firms Missing Out on Funding, Yet UK Growth Still "solid"

Medium-Sized Firms Missing Out on Funding, Yet UK Growth Still "solid"

MSBs funding limitedUK economic growth is looking up, and with it, business confidence is soaring right across the country.

The CBI's August 2015 report revealed that UK GDP rose by a "solid" 0.7% in Q2 2015 as "growth bounced back from an unexpectedly soft Q1".

This is positive news and looking ahead, the CBI predicts further steady growth both in the short term and to the end of 2016.

Improved access to funding and greater support for small and growing businesses is helping to boost this trend. But there is always room for improvement.

Medium-sized firms missing out on funding

One such barrier to growth lies in lack of funding.

While access to small business funding is steadily improving - both from alternative sources and the traditional banking sector - there is a vitally important minority of British businesses that are losing out.

Medium-sized businesses (MSBs) represent just 1.8% of companies in the UK, yet they generate nearly a quarter of private sector revenue and make up 16% of total employment. In a joint report between the BDO and the CBI, it suggests that more than half of MSBs are finding it difficult to access funding to aid long-term growth plans.

Said to be the ‘forgotten army’ of Britain’s businesses, over half of MSBs struggle to access a loan for longer than five years. Yet 70% of MSBs plan to expand in the next year.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said that building successful medium-sized businesses is "mission critical" to the UK's economic future. "A key part of unlocking their enormous potential is for the Government to fix the funding ladder, filling in the gaps in supply of long-term finance that the UK’s brightest growing firms need to succeed."

Barrier to growth

Another barrier to business growth lies in difficulty accessing the right support programmes.

There are thousands of different support initiatives across the UK, not limited to funding, which offer fantastic opportunities for flexible workspace operators and their clients. But how do you know which one is right for your business?

In this case study, entrepreneur Lenka Gourdie says that her experience of applying for grant funding put her off applying again, because the process was too time-consuming for a small business owner with other priorities and responsibilities.

"The bad experience of the process, the time consumed by filling forms, agreeing T&Cs, IP and then waiting for the final product put me off," she said. And even though she was successful in her funding application, she found that the end result was below expectations and did not help her long-term business plan.

The root of the problem appears to be a mis-match in the requirements of Lenka's business compared with the funding grant. And as we heard from Wayne Morris of the BCA Knowledge Team, this isn't uncommon.

He says there is a widespread lack of awareness of how to identify and secure the right business support programme. Finding the right one isn’t just time-consuming; there is also a lot of overlap, which can all too easily lead to a mis-match.

The BCA is committed to breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of opportunities for the flexible workspace industry, and one of the ways it does this is to connect workspace operators, suppliers and their clients with the people who can educate them on the right decisions.

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