October 13, 2011

Government boosts economy with £140m innovation investment

by Jan Harris

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the opening of the first Technology Information Centre (TIC). The manufacturing TIC will be part of a wider network of seven TICs, which are part of the government’s efforts to stimulate growth in the UK economy. The Technology Strategy Board is investing £140 million over six years to support […]




September 27, 2011

Barclays launches SME lending clinics

by Jan Harris

Barclays is launching lending clinics across the UK, in an effort to increase lending to small businesses. The move follows recent figures from the British Bankers’ Association showing a 10 per cent fall in lending to SMEs in the first six months of this year. Businesses with a turnover of £1 million or less received […]




August 5, 2011

UK banks on track with Project Merlin targets

by Jan Harris

Britain’s five largest banks claim that they will meet the targets agreed under the government’s Project Merlin Deal. Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland, along with Santander, signed up to the deal in February, when they promised to lend at least £190bn in 2011, including £76bn for SMEs. Provisional figures have now […]




June 8, 2011

Vince Cable threatens action over lending to SMEs

by Jan Harris

Business secretary Vince Cable has called the level of bank lending to SMEs ‘disappointing’ and said further action would be taken unless it improves. Banks are currently lagging behind on SME lending targets agreed under the Project Merlin agreement between the government and the UK four largest banks as well as Santander. The banks lent […]




June 6, 2011

Small business groups call for easier funding access

by Jan Harris

Despite the government’s recent efforts to improve the availability of funding for small businesses, five groups have called for a review of funding for SMEs. Last month the Bank of England revealed that lending to small businesses under the government’s Project Merlin initiative missed its target by £2.2m in the first quarter. The banks claimed […]




May 23, 2011

Banks fail to meet SME lending targets

by Jan Harris

Under ‘Project Merlin’ the UK’s four largest banks – HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group – together with Santander, agreed to make £76bn of credit available to smaller businesses in 2011, 15% more than was lent to SMEs in 2010. However the banks failed to keep this promise in the first […]




February 9, 2011

Banks promise £76bn funding for SMEs

by Jan Harris

The government has secured an agreement for major UK banks to provide £190bn of new funding for businesses in 2011, including £76bn for small and medium-sized enterprises. This is £10bn more credit than was available to SMEs last year. The deal is part of the government’s Project Merlin, a plan devised in October by former […]




January 28, 2011

Project Merlin bank talks stall

by Jan Harris

This week was supposed to be the week that the government rallied the banks to back small businesses, but the week has come and gone without an agreement in sight. The coalition government’s Merlin project was designed to conjure up nearly £200 billion of new lending but so far it is believed that the figure […]