Small business lending up!

You can’t switch on the news at the moment without hearing that another bank or building society has cut or withdrawn its mortgage lending options.Indeed you sense the full effect of an ‘economic downturn’ will only be felt when higher numbers face the problem of remortgaging – it’s traditionally the tipping point for a full blown recession.Among all the doom and gloom, it’s even more pleasing then to hear business lending, at least up until the turn of the year, has actually increased.Final quarter results published by the British Banking Association showed a 10% increase in lending to small businesses in 2007. A total £54.1bn was lent to companies with annual bank account turnover of under £1m, with £41.7m of that coming in the shape of termed loans. Overdraft lending dropped by just 1%.The stats also showed a steady growth in lending throughout the year, presenting little evidence for a loss of appetite for investments.David Dook, statistics director for BBA confirmed: “The main high street lenders continue to finance investment, while business liquidity has risen, suggesting that small businesses in general are in a good position to withstand pressures in the economy.”If banks are still backing early stage businesses it’s a fair assumption the diagnosis is equally rosy for companies with track records and lower perceived risk seeking growth finance.And why not? If you can survive in a downturn, you’ll flourish in a healthier climate. Skype founder Niklas Zennström, who also runs investment firm Atomico, told last month’s Second Chance Tuesday crowd: “I don’t look to make fewer investments in a downturn I just get a better deal for my money.”Our advice? Ignore the headlines, concentrate on your bottom lines.

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