Accessing finance is becoming more difficult for a large number of SMEs, according to new data from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Insights Unit.

Around half (49%) of business surveyed who accessed finance felt that getting funding had become more challenging over the past three years. Only 13% said it was getting easier.

The BCC’s latest survey of business conditions also reveals that most (70%) of the 553 firms surveyed – mainly SMEs – have not accessed finance from an external provider in the past twelve months. Firms with more than 50 employees are more likely to have accessed finance (72%) compared to smaller firms (58%).

As businesses continue to struggle with a series of economic headwinds, the majority of respondents (51%) who sought finance said cash flow was the main reason.

Miranda Barker OBE, Chief Executive at East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“We do recognise the constraints put on the UK’s SMEs by access to finance.

“This is especially true in the innovative technologies field, and this is exactly why we have created RedCAT – supporting low carbon technologies to find all the support AND funding they need to fully commercialise.

“For more information, contact us at

Jonny Haseldine, Policy Manager at the BCC said:

“As small and medium sized firms across the UK continue to deal with ongoing economic pressures – accessing crucial finance is really tough. For many SMEs it’s a hurdle too large to even try and tackle.

“In evidence to the Treasury Select Committee last September, we called for urgent action to help SMEs seeking finance. We need to see measures to improve accessibility to finance, better awareness of alternative funding options, and greater competition in banking options.

“Scaling up businesses in the UK is already challenging. The problems are multiplied for female or minority ethnic led firms. Many business owners are forced to dip into their own savings to grow their companies.

“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy. Giving firms easier and more competitive access to finance is crucial to getting the economic growth we all want to see.”

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Published On: April 5th, 2024
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