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The U.K. government should bring its range of funding plans for small and medium-sized businesses into a unified program to maximize results, the National Audit Office said in a report.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government and the Bank of England have sought to spur lending to businesses after the financial crisis led to a credit freeze. Cameron is aiming for private-sector hiring to offset cuts in public-sector jobs required by his austerity program and to help power Britain’s burgeoning economic recovery.
“Access to finance is a significant and enduring problem for many small and medium-sized businesses,” Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, the government’s spending watchdog, said in an e-mailed statement today. “But there is work to be done in terms of managing the schemes as a unified portfolio and articulating what they are intended to achieve as a whole,” bringing a “clearer focus on assessing what results can realistically be delivered.”
Small and medium-sized businesses may need an extra 22 billion pounds ($35 billion) of finance by 2017 on top of existing funding sources, the NAO said. While the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Business Bank, which will start operating next year, re-examined these funding issues, and both the BIS and the Treasury have teams focused on enterprise policy, there is no program across government departments, according to the NAO.
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