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Small Businesses (Finance)

Volume 513: debated on Thursday 8 July 2010

The coalition is committed to ensuring the flow of credit to viable small and medium-sized enterprises. The emergency Budget contained several measures, including the enterprise finance guarantee, the growth capital fund and the enterprise capital fund. However, unlike the previous Government, we are addressing proactively problems in the banking sector before rather than after they irreparably damage the economy.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his response. Is he aware that, in my constituency, some small businesses that have successfully managed to gain access to finance are now being prevented from using that, because a bank in which the taxpayer has a significant interest has scaled back its willingness to be exposed to joint liability with small, family-run suppliers? Will he agree to take time to meet me to discuss that?

I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that problem, which is happening all around the country. As it happens, in his constituency, I believe that nine companies have taken up the enterprise finance scheme—654 companies in Scotland have done likewise—and have drawn more than £1 million from it, but I recognise the problem. Actually, I think I met the chief executive of the bank to which I believe my hon. Friend is referring last week. I am aware of the enormous frustration in many small-scale enterprises, and I will continue to pursue the matter.

What help will the Secretary of State give to those small and medium-sized businesses that were hoping to take part in the building of 700 schools, including one in Tibshelf in my constituency? Does he not understand that public sector cuts equals private sector misery?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is conflating two massively different issues. I have many responsibilities—this is a very big Department—but school building, mercifully, is not one of them. However, he raises the more basic question of bank lending. Of course, there is an enormous problem, despite very high approval rates through the banking system. I am discussing with the Chancellor how we can improve the supply of capital, and there will be a paper before the summer on the different streams that we can energise to get capital flowing into good companies.