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Lender plea to open up guarantee plan

Business Lending Ltd is urging the Government to offer its SME funding guarantees to smaller commercial lenders rather than just the bigger players.

The £1bn scheme was launched by Lord Mandelson in January and guarantees 75 per cent of any small business loan up to £1m.

The Federation of Small Business recently found that only 8 per cent of small businesses said that their banks were offering the scheme.

FSB national chairman John Wright says: “The Government must monitor the guarantee scheme and must do more to promote these funds.”

Business Lending Ltd has been trying to become part of the Government’s enterprise guarantee scheme since its inception but has been told by the Treasury that the scheme is only available to the big banks.

BLL managing director Stuart Parfitt says smaller, more secure lenders like his are much better placed to be a part of the scheme than the troubled banks and would be able to make funds available faster.

He says: “Why try to plug a sieve when you can just fill a new bowl? We can get these guaranteed loans off the ground immediately.”

Parfitt says the company would be able to ringfence any funds it had guaranteed, making sure that they are used to create loans rather than stop leaks in failing banks.

He says: “We are trying hard to become an authorised len- der. We are also working on our own funding plans,but to have a 75 per cent Government guarantee we could really kickstart lending.

“We have NACFB members chomping at the bit for finance and we know if we were given the chance we could get millions out there to SMEs and get the money working in weeks.”

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