The Federation of Maser Builders (FMB) is backing calls from the CBI to increase the government guarantees on loans to small businesses to 100 per cent, to reflect the difficulty that builders are facing in accessing finance.
The FMB is also calling on banks to speed up their processing time for applications and for the government to come forward with a small and medium-sized (SME) Support Fund that administers grants to firms in urgent need of support.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Local builders have struggled to access finance through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), with just 4 per cent of those who applied being successful. Extending the government’s guarantee to 100 per cent on CBILS loans for small businesses would be welcome news. I know of Master Builders who have applied for a loan after turning a profit for over fifteen years, but who have been turned away because of the tight profit margins that they operate on.
“Anything to speed up access to cash has to be applauded. One in five small builders have had to wait 15 days or more to hear back from their bank, which is too long to wait when every day counts. But while faster loans would be positive, grants are needed now. The Small Business Grant Fund offers valuable help to many businesses but given most SME construction companies do not operate from business premises they are missing out on cash when they need it most. A new SME Support Fund, similar to the ones that exist in Scotland and Wales, and that is not linked to business rates, would overcome this problem and provide the much needed immediate cash assistance to small building companies. With 69 per cent of builders stopping at least 91 per cent of their trading, due to supply chain issues and difficulties with working safely on site, I’m concerned that firms risk going to the wall.”