Commenting on the announcement of the ‘Project Merlin’ agreement between the Government and the banking sector, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:  

“The argument surrounding bankers’ bonuses is one for discussion between the banks and the Government. But it’s my belief that this is a separate issue from the far more important and long-standing challenge around small business lending.   

“Throughout the recession and its aftermath, businesses have told us that their relationships with lenders have suffered tremendous strain. Poor or opaque decision-making, over-centralised processes and a lack of good relationship managers on the ground have caused a crisis of confidence between business and the banks. These problems are still all too real to small- and medium-sized companies across the UK. 

“While the big banks’ renewed commitment to small business lending is welcome, ministers and the banks need to focus their energy on improving frontline services for SMEs. Without clear lending processes and more sensible decision-making at a local level, many businesses will still be reluctant to ask for loans and big net lending targets won’t be met.”  

On the announcement regarding the extra £1bn added to the Business Growth Fund, David Frost said: 

“The extra £1bn added to the Business Growth Fund is good news for small and medium businesses, particularly for those based in regions across the UK that will be hit the hardest by public sector cuts. “We want to see a radical package to boost enterprise growth in next month’s Budget, with the Business Growth Fund and all other initiatives focused on generating stronger companies, more companies, and jobs.”