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Issue:- 07/08 April 2010

Small Business Credit Adjudicator task force launched

A new task force to advise the Government on how to ensure small companies are treated fairly and properly when accessing bank finance was today launched by the Department for Business.

Enterprise Champion Lord Sugar, outgoing Federation of Small Business chairman John Wright and former Lloyd’s TSB deputy chief executive Mike Fairey will comprise the task force. They will build on the work Lord Sugar has been doing with small businesses, Business Link’s Financial Intermediary Service (FIS) and the banks.

The task force will advise the Government on the role and responsibilities of the Small Business Credit Adjudicator (SBCA) announced in the Budget. Once established the SBCA will hear cases, referred by FIS, where a business may have been unfairly denied credit. The task force will also hear recommendations on the background, experience and skills to be considered when recruiting the independent SBCA, who will be experienced in banking and business markets.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said:- “Lord Sugar, Mike Fairey and John Wright have decades of experience in banking, business and enterprise. They understand the critical importance of new finance and credit flow to the growth of small, innovative companies. This Government has worked tirelessly to help small businesses access the finance they need. However there is a perception among small business owners that banks are unfairly denying them credit. This task force will help us understand the root of these concerns.”

The task force will meet bank and small businesses to discuss financing and credit issues to establish the responsibilities of the SBCA. It will produce a consultation document to be published in the summer, which will advise on options to establish the SBCA.

The consultation will consider potential powers and sanctions for the SBCA. Options will include powers to demand bank information and penalties such as naming and shaming banks found to have denied credit unfairly.

The SBCA will work in conjunction with Business Link’s Financial Intermediary Service. The FIS offers free and independent advice to viable business struggling to gain access to finance. It facilitates discussion between the bank and the business if FIS believes the bank’s decision should be re-considered.

Once the SBCA has been established FIS will be able to refer such cases to the Credit Adjudicator if they believe the business has been treated unfairly.

Government lending and survey data shows that the majority of the UK’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who require finance are able to access it, and currently at prices lower than two years ago. Around three quarters of small businesses obtain finance from their first source, consistent with approval rates for loans and overdrafts in excess of 75%.

However the perception of a shortage of credit for small businesses remains in place and there have been small but important cases where viable businesses have been turned down. The Small Business Credit Adjudicator aims to address that issue.

The Government has put in place a number of significant measures to ensure that SMEs – the lifeblood of British business – have the support they need to grow. Real help offered to businesses through the difficult economic period include the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, the ‘Time to Pay’ tax deferral scheme and free Business Link Health Checks.

The Department for Business welcomes views from interested parties. Before the consultation round suggestions and information can be sent to:-


MERSEYSIDE Police are appealing for witnesses following an armed robbery at the Albany Hotel pub on Ruskin Street in Kirkdale at around 1am on 6 Tuesday, April 2010.

The licensee was in the lounge of the pub with his wife and a friend when three masked men, one of whom is thought to have had a gun, gained entry to the premises and forced him to open the safe, stealing a quantity of cash. The licensee sustained a head injury during the incident and was taken to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital for treatment and remains in a stable condition in hospital. He and his wife have been running the pub for 12 years and are well-known and liked in the local area. The offenders knew the licensee by name.

Anyone with information in relation to this incident is asked to call detectives on:- 0151 777 4811 or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on:- 0800 555 111.

 ERDF announces £3.4m for the Museum of Liverpool

THE Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme is pleased to announce £3.4 million of funding to support the creation of four exciting exhibition spaces at the new Museum of Liverpool.

The investment will support the fit-out of the museum’s four galleries as well as the interpretation and exhibits that will fill the space. It will enable the museum to explore the extraordinary and complex story of Liverpool within the context of the wider region as well as the big national and international themes that have shaped this and other British cities.

The Museum of Liverpool, due to open next year on Liverpool’s historic waterfront, will be one of the world’s most spectacular city history museums. The construction of the building has already received £5 million from the Northwest European Regional Development Fund. This new money will help ensure that the contents of the museum are as spectacular as its exterior.

Councillor Flo Clucas, member of the Northwest ERDF Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC), said:- “The new museum of Liverpool is architecturally striking and will be one of the region’s flagship cultural attractions. This investment will ensure that the museum is able to deliver a world-class visitor experience that will set it, and the Northwest, apart from our competitors.”

The museum will focus on four main themes: Port City, Creative City, People’s City and Global City.

David Fleming, Director, National Museums Liverpool, said:- "The museum already looks spectacular from the outside. Now we are planning to make the inside breathtaking too. We are delighted to receive this funding which will go towards the internal fit-out. There will be 8,000 square metres of public space across three floors and visitors will have access to more than 6000 objects. In each of the four massive galleries visitors will be able explore and immerse themselves in every aspect of Liverpool life. We want to attract more than 750,000 visitors a year and give the city a museum to be proud of.”

The £72m Museum of Liverpool is the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for over a century. It is set to open in 2011.


BUSINESS Link Northwest is urging companies in Merseyside to go green to save money and help to protect the environment, during national Green Office Week.

Green Office Week, which runs from 26 April to 30 April 2010, aims to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of being more environmentally aware in the workplace.

Steve Wood, a Business Link Northwest energy and environmental adviser who works with companies in Merseyside, said there are many advantages of improving resource efficiency for companies.

Steve Wood said:- “Being efficient with your use of resources and materials is a key driver of profitability, as well as helping you to run your business in an environmentally friendly way, which we all have a responsibility to do. The first step to improving your green credentials is to work out your current resource use and to identify any areas for improvement. Environmental assessment is crucial to securing the benefits that increased sustainability offers. Making sure that you don’t waste energy, water and other resources, as well as common workplace items, such as paper, will help to protect your bottom line. Businesses should also look at how they can reduce the amount of waste they produce and encourage their staff to reduce the environmental impact of their travel to and from work by car sharing or using public transport. Putting in place simple measures like recycling, using low energy bulbs and switching off computers when they are not in use is a great starting point to help you reduce your carbon footprint from today.”

Encouragingly, an increasing number of businesses across the North West are seeking guidance through the Business Link website on how they can go green. From January to February 2010 the number of views to the environment and efficiency pages of the Business Link Northwest website increased by 97 per cent.

For practical information on how your company can go green, go to:-

For more information call Business Link Northwest on:- 0845 00 66 888.

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