Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson, Sandra Overend MLA, has said that access to finance remains a huge obstacle for many small and medium sized businesses in advance of a briefing from Ulster Bank to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee on the UK wide ‘Funding for Lending’ Scheme.
The Mid Ulster MLA said;
‘”It is clear that many businesses in Northern Ireland continue to struggle to access finance during the current economic climate and I welcome the opportunity which the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee will have on Wednesday morning to speak with representatives from Ulster Bank on the Funding for Lending Scheme.
“From listening to businesses on the ground, I don’t think the Coalition Government’s ‘Project Merlin’ or the subsequent ‘National Loan Guarantee Scheme’ have brought about any significant improvement here with respect to local businesses accessing finance. It is therefore essential that the Funding for Lending Scheme, which has been extended until January 2015, brings about a significant step change in lending to local business.
“A lack of clarity in this area is evident and that is why my Party has also called on Her Majesty’s Treasury to set Northern Ireland specific targets, for lending. Effective monitoring of the success or otherwise of Invest NI’s Access to Finance Strategy as well as implementation of the recommendations from the Economic Advisory Group chaired by Kate Barker will also help to remove the huge obstacles for many small and medium sized businesses.”