EFG: ‘Don’t bother’

The government’s Enterprise Guarantee (EFG) Scheme has come under a fresh round of criticism, with the vast majority of small businesses seeing ‘little point’ in applying for it.

Some 93 per sent are shunning the scheme designed to help them through the recession, according to business consultancy Clifton Asset Management (CAM).

Anthony Carty, director of CAM, says: ‘These figures back up the huge store of anecdotal evidence we constantly receive from business owners who report it is near-impossible for them to access finance from the banks, regardless of the EFG.’

Of the 1,000 SMEs surveyed, 28 per cent said they had not heard of the scheme. Adds Carty: ‘If this is supposed to be the government’s flagship idea for helping UK SMEs out of recession, then it is a damning statistic that more than one in four don’t even know what the EFG is.

‘This leaves you with the sense that maybe the government isn’t putting as much pressure on the banks to promote the scheme and lend cash as they would like us to believe.’

According to official figures, more than 4,000 businesses have been offered an EFG loan amounting to a total of £400 million.

EFG cash cow for banks

Banks are charging too much in administration charges and interest rates under the government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, say small businesses.

According to research from Durham University, the average administration fee charged by EFG lenders is £2,430, with interest rates set at around 5.9 per cent.

Phil McCabe, spokesperson for the Forum of Private Business, says: ‘Interest rates are at artificially high levels and are deterring businesses from borrowing. Banks need to start playing ball by making finance more affordable and assessing businesses credit worthiness on a case-by-case basis.’

Of the 385 businesses surveyed, two-thirds say they are broadly happy with the scheme, although only 26 per cent are satisfied with the amount charged in administrative fees.

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