Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) finance

Consultation author

Treasury Committee

Our response published

28 August 2023

Executive summary

  • The government should consider helping SMEs gain better access to alternative financing platforms to offer more flexibility and quicker release of funds. AAT recommends the Treasury consider how to support more alternative financing platforms for SMEs, including the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) recommendation to allow more approved lenders into the Bank Referral Scheme.
  • More communication campaigns, guidance, and training are needed on where SMEs can access finance. This should not only be focused on building awareness of where SMEs can access finance but also help them to apply for financing itself.
  • The government should partner with professional bodies and trusted third-parties to better promote financing options as well as offer guidance and training on how to apply for them. This includes utilising platforms like Informi, which offers free guidance and information to small business owners and start-ups, which, as an AAT powered resource, has had over 2.5 million visits.
  • This inquiry should also consider the root causes behind why SMEs require finance in the first place. If incentives and payment practices were improved with enhanced SME focus, it can help to drive up investment in growth and eventually improve businesses’ ability to access finance as a result.
  • The government should review the lessons learnt from Help to Grow: Digital, listen more to SMEs to ensure incentives meet their needs, and strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to tackle late payments. These would go a significant way towards addressing some of the main causes of financial hardship for SMEs, especially in relation to late payments.
Read our response (PDF)