The British government has announced a scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses get access to credit.
The idea is to stop cash-starved firms going bust because they have been refused credit by banks. It is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is trailing in opinion polls and must fight an election within 18 months, to kickstart the UK economy. Brown told the House of Commons: “This is real help for business now. It is targeted and focused, it is funded and it is additional to what has been done before.” Business Minister Peter Mandelson said the government would put up the equivalent of eleven billion euros to guarantee small business loans will be repaid in order to encourage the banks to lend more: “The crisis in the global economy is above all a credit crisis. Many companies are struggling to finance themselves because of the crisis in the banks. Their business models are not flawed but the credit crunch has drastically reduced the amount of capital available and banks have tightened their lending criteria.” Some economists and industry figures said the scheme did not go far enough and would not stop the economy heading deeper into recession. The British government injected billions to boost banks’ capital in October but that failed to spark an increase in lending. Further measures to boost bank lending are expected soon.