Ruth Mitchell

Regional reaction to Project Merlin data

Despite reports out today that the UK’s leading banks believe they are on track to meet Project Merlin targets, there is still some dissatisfaction in the SME community.

According Bank of England data released earlier this month showed that some SMEs are still seeing their loan rates increase despite promises by banks to support local business.

Commenting on the Merlin lending data announced by the Banks today, Tony Sarginson of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation in the North East said:

“The Banks have been true to their word and made credit available as they said they would.

But however positive the numbers are, the Merlin targets only tell us part of the story. There is still the question of lending on what terms and at what price?“

The banks’ own Business Finance Monitor highlighted the extent of discouraged demand amongst SMEs with 15% of SMEs not even approaching their banks, despite wanting finance.

Tony Sarginson added: “The smaller firms in the North East are still seeing rising costs and some of them are discouraged from even approaching their Banks.

“We need to see these trends reversed if we are to encourage further investment from North East manufacturers, in particular with a relentless focus from both the financial sector and the government on improving access for SMEs, who are facing the toughest conditions.”

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