Business Growth Fund Opened Up to Small Companies
The £2.5 billion Business Growth Fund, established by the British Bankers Association’s Taskforce to encourage economic growth, was launched in May with a minimum turnover requirement for applicants of £10 million (for firms seeking investment of £2-£10 million).
However, this was criticised by business groups, who said the threshold would rule out 97% of UK businesses, many of which would be ideal applicants.
But the fund’s chief executive, Stephen Welton, has now gone on record saying companies with turnover as low as £5 million can apply.
A spokesman for the fund defended the initial criteria:
“This isn’t a fundamental change in who can access the finance, we’re simply adding an element of flexibility.”
“There are companies out there who match our criteria in every other aspect except turnover, especially high growth firms, and we want to make sure that we don’t rule them out.”
Forum of Private Business spokesman Phil McCabe said that the measures still fall short of what is required by smaller firms.
“It will help some additional firms, but the question is how many more and the answer looks like not that many,” he said.
McCabe added that the fund also offered the wrong type of finance.
“The official figures show that a paltry 1% of small and medium-sized enterprises are seeking equity finance, with the majority choosing not to sacrifice a stake in their businesses and preferring bank loans and overdrafts. Clearly, there is a pressing need for a much greater mix of funding options for small firms.”