SMALL businesses are being called on by Seaford MP Norman Baker to help him ensure that banks are meeting lending targets.
Last year the coalition government announced, under the agreement called Project Merlin, that banks would lend about £190bn to businesses during that year – including £76bn to small firms. HSBC has written to Mr Baker to state that it reached its target for 2011, but aims to do more for this year and has provided assurances that it will, for instance, aim to approve at least 80 per cent of applications for finance from small and medium sized enterprises.
The MP is hopeful that other banks will follow suit for 2012, but he is calling on local businesses to keep him abreast of their experiences with the banks, to help him ensure that banks are held to account and do actually lend.
For small and medium enterprises whose experience does not live up to what is expected under Project Merlin, the MP is asking that they write to him at his constituency office – 23 East Street, Lewes, BN7 2LJ.
He said, “Access to finance is crucial to ensure that small and medium sized businesses can get through this tough economic climate, and banks have a responsibility under Project Merlin to lend.
“HSBC has provided me with assurances that it has high aims for 2012. I want HSBC to stick to its target and I want other banks to set high targets and stick to them as well.
“The proof of the pudding will of course be in the eating and I am hoping that by relaying their experiences to me, local small businesses will help me to ensure that the banks are held to account and do more in 2012 to support small businesses.”