Access to finance is improving - Minister

EAST Antrim MLA and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has said business access to funding, while challenging, is improving.

He was speaking following a series of meetings with local banks about how access to funding could be improved.

Mr Wilson said: “It is imperative that our businesses have the finance they need made available so they can continue to trade and grow. The Enterprise Minister and I have met with all of our local banks and although there are still issues to be faced I believe significant progress has been made.

“All of our banks have indicated they have money to lend to good projects. However, they have suggested that a lack of demand is a particular problem.

“I have no doubt that there is a lack of confidence given the economic climate but our economic recovery depends on businesses taking bold steps to progress investment projects or business opportunities they have. Many are doing this, but we also need those that are potentially holding back to do likewise.”

Recognising that the cost and conditions attached to credit are constraining viable local firms, the Finance Minister added: “While I have been pressing the banks on this, we need to recognise that costs will unfortunately be higher than pre-financial crisis and that more scrutiny will be required – though achieving the right balance here is crucial.

“The DETI Minister and I will continue to work with and to press the banks and the Government to take all steps necessary to ensure our banking system is stable, secure and is making lending available at affordable terms. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has also offered to assist where possible and we will shortly be meeting with her on this.”