Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today announced plans for guaranteed loans to small businesses to help them survive the economic downturn. The SME assistance facilities comprise new products provided by commercial banks and supplement government help announced in the pre-budget report.
Under the new plan, three types of credit guarantees are offered:
Working Capital Scheme will secure up to £20bn of short term lending to companies with a turnover of up to £500m. The government will guarantee up to 50% of the value of loans. This scheme is subject to approval by the European Commission for EU State Aid Clearance and aims to be operational by 1 March 2009.
Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme will secure up to £1.3bn of new bank loans to small firms with a turnover of up to £25m. Government will guarantee 75% of risk, leaving the bank with 25%.
£75m Capital for Enterprise Fund will provide £50m from government, augmented by £25m from the banks, to be invested in small businesses which need equity. Companies may sell debt and hand over a share of the business in order to receive funds.
Government hopes the initiative will allow banks to continue or resume lending to viable businesses that are having temporary cash flow difficulties, to cover working capital or new investment.
SMMT welcomed the announcement and the indications that government was considering the specific support measures requested by the automotive industry. Commenting on the announcement, SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: “These measures are a welcome step and we will be encouraging all qualifying companies to take advantage of them.
“Access to finance and credit remains an issue for all companies in the motor industry and further measures are required to encourage responsible lending and kick-start demand for new vehicles. The extraordinary circumstances we currently face mean that further government support will be required to enable the automotive industry to take advantage of global economic growth when it returns.”
SMMT will be hosting the first in a series of Open Forums for motor industry manufacturing companies on Wednesday 28 January 2009, guiding delegates through the various funding opportunities now available to them.