The vice chairman of one of the UK’s biggest banks has said his company does not need a new multi-billion pound scheme to prevent a second credit crunch.
The Bank of England and Treasury announced an £80 billion cash injection to banks last week on the condition they pass it on to businesses and households in the form of cheaper loans and mortgages.
The move saw a sharp spike in banking shares although City and industry experts have warned that there is no guarantee the plan will kickstart lending.
However, Steve Cooper, vice chairman of Barclays business, said the scheme doesn’t address the core problem of companies’ reluctance to borrow, particularly in the face of a eurozone debt storm.
He said: “From a Barclays point of view I welcome it but we do not need it.
“We have liquidity of capital and equity by lending significant amounts to business.
“It is good news, but from a Barclays perspective we do not need that money to lend. The Government is doing a lot of things. I would like to see it a bit more joined up and connected.
“We expect to use the £1.5 billion from the National Loan Guarantee Scheme by the end of the summer.
“What the business community needs now is confidence.
“Confidence is damaged by a number of things like the eurozone. That is going to have a knock on effect in the UK.
“I see a robust SME community in the UK and the survival rate is pretty good.”
Mr Cooper, who was in the region for Barclays’ Ignite Business Growth event at the National Motorcycle Museum, said that claims by SMEs that banks weren’t lending – according to the Federation of Small Business one in five SMEs claim access to finance is their biggest barrier to growth – just didn’t stack up.
“If the banks take that money from this scheme, they have to lend it at the same rate,” he said.
“Banks are lending – if they think the business is viable and requires debt and it shows that it can repay that debt.
“About 40 per cent of those that are refused cannot show they can pay it back.
“Twenty five per cent of those not getting lending is when the credit rating is very poor, usually caused by poor record keeping by the business owner.
“In terms of the price, it is more expensive than it was in 2007.
“Banks have had to raise more capital and some of that is passed on to the borrower.
“But in absolute terms most business are paying less today than they were four or five years ago.
“We see a lack of borrowing caused by a lack of confidence. Eighty per cent of people that come to us get loans and we want to help business grow.”
Also speaking at the event was successful Midland entrepreneur Perween Warsi CBE and a co-founder of Innocent Drinks, Adam Balon.
Ms Warsi is founder and chief executive of Derby-based S&A Foods, which supplies chilled ethnic ready meals.
She started her business by selling samosas to her local fish and chip shop before winning a contract to supply Asda.
She said: “Innovation has definitely been the lifeline for S&A Foods.
“The other products on the market were not of good quality, it was not really Indian food.
“My focus was to get my products on the shelves of supermarkets. We started supplying from a little factory in 1987.
“Over the years we have seen the market moving and the way we have survived is by innovating.
“The market is extremely difficult. When I started it was new and growing.
“In today’s economic climate I believe in having an open and a positive mind. There are always options.”