Reference number: 02375 FSB meet bank to discuss access to finance issues The subject of why many small businesses are struggling to get finance from the banks was the major issue at a meeting which bought the FSB face to face with two key bankers at a get together co-ordinated by Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo. The MP bought together two senior executives from Lloyds TSB Bank with Ken Simpson, the chair of the FSB''s Bristol'' branch, and Sam Holliday, the Development Manager for the Glos and West of England region, to discuss access to finance for SMEs. The meeting followed the recent national report by the FSB which revealed that more than 40 per cent of companies who applied for bank funds were turned down in the last quarter. Ken said the meeting was very useful and was appreciative that the bank representatives had listened to the concerns raised by local small business owners. "There has been a lot of talk in the media over recent months concerning the access to finance for small businesses and when the FSB met Dawn Primarolo a couple of months ago to discuss this thorny issue we were pleased to see her take on board our comments and arrange a meeting with Lloyds Banking Group. "This subsequent meeting with Dawn in the chair was very successful and we have agreed to work with the bank to identify the real facts behind the story and find out the reasons why businesses may have encountered difficulties in this vital area," he said. Lloyds TSB were represented by Jo McKenna, the Business Banking Transformation Director and South West Group Ambassador, and Martin Racher, the Area Director for SME banking for Bristol and Somerset, and Ms McKenna said it had been a useful exchange of ideas and thoughts. "The meeting with Dawn, Sam and Ken was very constructive. We discussed FSB member''s experiences in access to finance and the bank''s enthusiasm to support viable SMEs with lending through our local business teams. "We discussed the challenges we all faced, how to build on increases in confidence and how we might be able to work more closely with the FSB in Bristol to understand the issues and support local start-ups and small enterprises to expand their businesses." Dawn Primarolo said she hoped the meeting could be a starting point for improved relationships between the banks and small businesses which can only help to boost the city''s economic prospects. "It''s vital that our banks are prepared to lend to successful small businesses who want to grow their business. It''s also important for small business owners to understand what the banks need from them before a loan can be agreed. We need a clear and open dialogue to ensure finance is accessible," she said. As part of the continuing dialogue, the FSB has asked that if any of their Bristol based members have experienced problems getting finance they should email their concerns to Ken Simpson. *The meeting followed a similar one organised by the FSB''s Bristol and South Gloucestershire branches at Arnos Vale Cemetery where local members told the National Audit Office about their access to finance experiences. The National Audit Office were investigating how aware SMEs were of the grants and finance available to them and they will be using the experiences shared by our members in a report due to go before Government later this year.