SMEs stamp their feet over Royal Mail sale

Nearly half of small business owners want Royal Mail to remain a publicly-owned group.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

When the Federation of Small Businesses surveyed its 5,000 members, 48% said the postal group should stay in public hands. They may find a bit of bad news arriving with tomorrow's post, when the Government sets out its plan to overhaul the group - including selling a minority stake to a rival operator.

The FSB said that small companies cannot afford to lose any more branches, with 80% depending on them for mail and other business services. Nearly 20% of its members said they are having to endure longer queues in post offices (we've all been there), now that the government has completed its closure of 2,500 branches; while 17% said they had to travel further to find a branch. So it seems broadband isn't enough for everyone.

And it looks like the government may need to listen to SMEs on other issues too. A third of small businesses have found it harder to get credit in February, despite government promises. Research by the Forum of Private Business prepared for Monday night's episode of Panorama on small business, Credit Where It's Due, found that while 66% of small businesses reported no change in the availability of credit, only 2% said things had got better. Meanwhile 15% said they'd seen their banking fees go up.

In January the government said it would provide guarantees on 60% of £20bn short-term loans to firms with a turnover of up to £500m. Meanwhile its Enterprise Guarantee Scheme will secure up to £1.3bn in additional bank loans to companies with a turnover of up to £25m, while the £75m Capital for Enterprise Fund is designed specifically for businesses with high levels of debt.

Monday night's Panorama made the point that, in the three months it took to make the programme, 9,000 small businesses will have gone bust. Which shows that funding isn't exactly reaching those companies in need. And it hasn't just got lost in the post.

In today's bulletin:
Cadbury Milking the gloom as profits jump 30%
Sir Philip Green to merge Arcadia and Bhs
Airports and trains struggle as passenger numbers drop
SMEs stamp their feet over Royal Mail sale
Non-exec directors getting more for less

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