Belfast Telegraph

Growth wrecked by lack of access to finance, say third of companies

By David Elliot

One third of firms in Northern Ireland are having their growth curtailed by a lack of finance.

In the latest Business Monitor survey from InterTradeIreland businesses blamed a lack of access to finance from the banks on a decline in sales and cashflow.

Despite the complaints, only one in 10 businesses approached banks for funding, with most blaming unattractive interest rates and conditions on loans for their disinterest.

Meanwhile, 60% of the 1,000 businesses surveyed were aware of credit insurance and only one in 10 businesses have bought it.

"We are faced with a complex trilemma, a decline in customers, a fall in confidence and contraction in cash with each reinforcing the other, creating a vicious circle that is difficult to break out of," Aidan Gough, director of strategy and policy with InterTradeIreland, said.

"The fact is that nine out of 10 businesses are reluctant to approach banks for funding.

"The disconnect between the funding businesses require and what banks are willing to provide is an issue that needs addressed.

"The Business Monitor also indicates that those who export or who have cross-border sales are significantly more likely than those who rely solely on the domestic market to report increased sales, and are less likely to have experienced a decrease.

"Around 33% of companies which are exporting or involved in cross-border trade are reporting increased sales, compared with only 19% of those which are operating solely in local markets.

"The roadmap is very clear - we need more companies exporting," said Mr Gough.