Banks scuppering new businesses

BUSINESSMEN are finding it increasingly difficult to start new firms in Weston as they are unable to borrow vital money from banks.

Local finance experts and businessmen say both the owners of existing businesses and those looking to set up new ones are receiving rough deals at the hand of national banks which are using increasingly harsh criteria to decide who they lend to.

In the wake of the global financial downturn, banks are asking for higher figures for security, while even one month of a bad credit rating or the fact the applicant does not own their own house can lead to a request being turned down.

Weston-based financial broker Paul Dickinson said national chains do not now decide loan applications on a local level, which often means businesses are left without funds needed to start up.

He said: “It is very difficult for small local businesses as they do not tend to fit in with the banks’ criteria, and the information is taken electronically or by paper and then decided on centrally without knowledge of the local situation.”

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Mr Dickinson, who has set up West Coast Leasing to lend to businesses in Weston, said one restaurant in the town was recently refused a loan to replace old equipment despite the fact it had been open for four years.

Meanwhile Julie and Merrick Jones were unable to secure a loan of �44,000 to help meet all the costs of starting their new Glo Bistro business on September 1.

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Although they had a business plan described as ‘excellent’ by bank managers, and have years of experience in both accounting and hospitality, they have been unable to open.

Mrs Jones said: “It’s very dispiriting as we were looking to employ people and open from 8am to 10pm, but if things stay the way they are we will not be able to.”

Colin Sandford, chairman of the Weston branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “It’s really tough out there at the moment. It’s a shame it’s so hard because there are lots of empty shops out there for new businesses to move into.”

National figures released by the FSB stated that 55 per cent of businesses with up to nine employees had not applied for a loan within the past year because they expected to be turned down, while an independent survey conducted by the BAA Taskforce – made up of the major banks and businesses and trade bodies – said small businesses are the most likely to be refused finance.

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