At least 40,000 UK SMEs expected to lean on finance-providers as costs swell

More than 40,000 UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are expected to lean on finance-providers to help stay afloat on the back of current challenges around rising costs, according to new research.

The study from London-based fintech lender Nucleus Commercial Finance (NCF) has found that 15 per cent of firms with 10 to 249 employees expect to need a loan to support the running of their business, although just 1 per cent of sole traders predict having to go down this route.

Three quarters of firms in the 10 to 249 range reported being worried about the prospect of rising business costs over the next 12 months, with 29 per cent of this group saying they are very worried, according to the survey, which between August 10 and 15 polled 512 senior decision-makers at UK SMEs.

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Just 38 per cent of businesses surveyed say they are confident about being able to access affordable finance in the next year if needed, falling to less than a quarter of sole traders.

NCF founder and chief executive Chirag Shah said: “UK SMEs have been through the ringer over the past couple of years. Covid pushed many to the brink, and just as they are getting back on their feet, their costs are rising exponentially… the year ahead could prove to be one of the toughest.

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“But businesses are not on their own. Having gone through the challenges of Covid, finance-providers and government must work together to ensure that those lessons are learnt to deliver the necessary support. Doing so means that the UK’s battle-hardened SMEs can lead the recovery on the other side.”

A third of SMEs say they are very worried about the prospect of rising business costs over the next year (file image). Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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