Belfast Telegraph

Minister highlights bank’s fund for small firms

By Symon Ross

As the manufacturing sector continues to struggle, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has encouraged small firms to avail of loans from local banks.

Mr Wilson in particular highlighted support available from Ulster Bank, which is part of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Minister said that while a £1bn fund announced last month by RBS does not include Northern Ireland, manufacturers in the province can still draw funding from the bank’s SME fund.

The Minister said: “The Ulster Bank operates an SME fund which supports all sectors, including the local manufacturing sector. Unlike funds offered by the RBS elsewhere in the UK, those offered in Northern Ireland are not sector-specific as these would be too restrictive at the regional level and could result in specific funds being under utilised.

“This is good news for small local firms, including those in the manufacturing sector. Many of these firms need ready access to capital and this will be welcomed by those who wish to build their businesses and prepare for the upturn in the economy.”

The Belfast Telegraph reported on January 15 that the dedicated UK fund which offers manufacturers loans between £250,000 and £25m at discounted rates and arrangement fees did not extend to Northern Ireland. However, Ulster Bank said that its £250m Regional Fund for SMEs operated here.

Mr Wilson criticised comments from UUP MLA David McNarry about the £1bn fund excluding firms in the province. “This is, at best, unhelpful to local businesses and our banking sector, and may even act to undermine confidence in the NI economy at a time when it is emerging from a serious recession,” said Mr Wilson.

Belfast Telegraph

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