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SMEs reveal rising optimism levels

A new survey has revealed rising levels of optimism among the UK’s small and medium-sized business (SME) community.

The research, conducted by BDRC Continental, found that 21 per cent of SMEs in the fourth quarter of 2013 considered the economic climate to represent an obstacle to the growth of their firm.

This figure is down from a peak of 37 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

What’s more, the research shows that while this remains the main issue in the eyes of SMEs, among some firms it is considered to be no more troublesome than legislation and regulation.

It was found, too, that fewer SMEs felt they had to inject funds, while 48 per cent of SMEs intend to grow over the next 12 months.

Shiona Davies, director at BDRC Continental, commented: “SMEs ended 2013 feeling more positive about the economy. However, there are few signs of this leading to an increased demand for external finance.

“There is little in the way of frustrated demand, as eight out of ten SMEs are ‘happy non-seekers’ of finance.”

She added: “Where applications have been made, there is a clear divide in success rates between on the one hand the larger established businesses or those renewing existing facilities, and on the other the smaller or younger applicants, especially those applying for the first time who are less likely to be successful.”

Earlier this year, the British Bankers’ Association said that banks are more willing to lend than small businesses think is the case.

Some 37 per cent of small businesses planning to apply for financial support think that they will not get approval from the bank, despite the fact that more than two-thirds have actually had their loan application approved.

BBA boss Anthony Browne said that banks are open for business and are happy to lend money.

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