Small firms across the West Midlands have received a stark New Year warning that banks are ‘disabling’ growth – and have failed to grasp the scale of damage wreaked ahead of the 2008 crisis.
Phil Orford, chief executive at the small business support and lobby group, the Forum of Private Business, launched a blistering attack on the banking sector amid fears that the UK could fall into an unprecedented triple-dip recession.
Mr Orford also fired off a withering broadside at politicians – and claimed the small business sector was ‘increasingly disenfranched’ from the PR and spin of the political classes.
"For too long now, the economy has struggled due to a lack of affordable credit being available to businesses and consumers.
"Despite a number of Government initiatives, the latest of which is the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), the main banks continue to disable growth by applying unreasonable criteria to their assessments of risk and credit worthiness," said Mr Orford.
"They are institutionally risk adverse, anti-competitive and fail to grasp the scale of the damage they have done, and continue to do. More radical action must be taken to force change now, rather in years to come.
"With talk of an unprecedented triple-dip recession, it is no wonder that confidence remains low, businesses hoarding cash and investment intentions distinctly muted.
"Despite this, many small business owners possess the courage and creativity to progress despite adverse trading conditions.
"What we need during 2013 is a clear national economic strategy which maintains a focus on deficit reduction, lower borrowing and an improvement in our balance of payments, whilst mapping out a visionary approach to medium and long-term enterprise-friendly policies to give all business the confidence to invest.
"Despite Government rhetoric to reduce the burden of red tape on businesses, 2013 sees some significant amendments to legislation and HMRC rules which business owners need to plan for immediately."