New platform to improve small business access to finance, amid signs of SME credit crunch

Press Releases 25 Jan 2024

The figures show barely more than half (53%) of SME credit applications were successful in the final three months of 2023, significantly down from a 62% success rate in the previous three months.

  • Success rate of small business finance applications falls 10% in three months
  • Affordable lending harder to find, with a third facing interest rates over 11%
  • FSB launches new platform to ease these pressures, in partnership with

Small businesses are finding it harder to access finance and are seeing credit costs rise, according to new research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The figures show barely more than half (53%) of SME credit applications were successful in the final three months of 2023, significantly down from a 62% success rate in the previous three months.

Of those whose credit application was successful, a third (33%) were offered an interest rate in excess of 11%, while the average rate offered was around 9.3%, up from 8.9% in Q3 2023.

The most common reason for seeking finance in Q4 2023 was cashflow (55%), up from just 26% looking for finance for cashflow a year earlier, in Q4 2022, and up from 41% in Q3 2023.

The other main drivers of finance applications were to expand the business (19%) and to upgrade equipment (15%).

Against this backdrop of what appears to be a growing SME credit crunch, FSB – the UK’s largest business representative organisation – has teamed up with to support its members.

A new FSB Funding Platform, provided by Capitalise, gives access to a wide range of lending options from more than 100 UK lenders.

It also offers deep insights into business credit scores and the ability for small business owners to review and amend their scores, as well as checking the credit risk of key partners such as suppliers or clients.

FSB Chief Commercial Officer, Caroline Lavelle, said: “For 50 years FSB has been supporting its members to run and grow their businesses, including by providing tailored products and services to address the biggest needs of the day.

“It’s clear that access to affordable finance has become harder recently, and therefore we are very pleased to have been able to partner with Capitalise to provide our members with this comprehensive solution.

“Combining powerful credit insights and risk management tools along with such a wide range of lenders will be incredibly supportive for our members in what can be a difficult funding market to navigate.”

Paul Surtees, CEO of Capitalise, said: “We’re dedicated to transforming the landscape of business finance for FSB members as they work hard to operate and grow their businesses.

“With our support and expert insights, as well as handing small business owners crucial data to make informed decisions and improve their financial health, this will be a game-changer for those seeking finance.

“Alongside the transparent access we offer to a wide range of lending options from over 100 UK lenders, this will ensure diverse and tailored financial solutions for ambitious business owners.”

FSB Funding Platform in partnership with Capitalise is now live and is available to all FSB members.

Notes to editors

  1. Statistics are from FSB’s Small Business Index (SBI) Q4 2023 survey, and where indicated from previous SBI surveys.
  2. The SBI Q4 2023 survey was conducted by Verve, with 756 respondents between 13 December 2023 and 2 January 2024.
  3. 16% of respondents to the SBI Q4 2023 survey had applied for finance in Q4.
  4. Details of the FSB Funding Platform can be found on FSB’s website.

Media contact: [email protected]

About FSB

As the UK’s largest business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established 50 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed.

FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice to Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at

About Capitalise

Capitalise gives small businesses transparency and control over business finance, in one place. Its online platform provides access to over 100 lenders through a single application. It helps businesses spot risks to cash flow before they become a threat and lets them monitor their credit profile, through its partnership with Experian and with the support of a team of small business specialists. 

Capitalise has already helped thousands of small businesses reach more than £1.7 billion in approved funding giving them a clearer way to grow and they've built connections with over 2,000 accounting firms.

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Alan Soady

Alan Soady

Head of Media & Communications