Access to finance formed one of the key themes of the LEP Network event, which took place in Westminster last week. The conference examined how Local Enterprise Partnerships could evolve to provide greater support for small businesses.
As keynote speaker, Cable explained that the Business Bank would form an integral part of the Government's on-going efforts to increase the availability of credit to SMEs in order to stimulate UK-wide economic recovery. The Business Secretary highlighted the need for the Government to take a long-term approach to growth, while maintaining strong communication links with smaller businesses to ensure the scheme meets their needs.
Similarly, UK Minister of State for Housing and Local Government Mark Prisk emphasised the importance of fostering an open dialogue with SMEs, suggesting Local Enterprise Partnerships must work more closely with the local business community. Taking to the stage earlier in the day, Prisk outlined how the Growing Places Fund, managed by LEPs, would continue to provide vital opportunities for promising young businesses across Britain.
Despite this positive progress from LEPs and the public sector, the state of the UK banking sector and lending conditions for SMEs remained a major point of contention at the conference. As Twitter comments from attendees outline below, the small business community still believes major reform is required to encourage financial institutions to extend capital to small businesses.
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