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Roddy Graham's Blog: 29 January 2009 - Funding, what funding?

Date: 29 January 2009

Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo

With all the recent hullabaloo about Government guaranteed lending schemes, our CFO David Bird and I in a quiet moment one evening spent some time finding out exactly what we could extract from Government in these tough economic times. 

It was purely an academic exercise as we whiled a few hours one evening. However, the results were far from amusing for anyone seriously intent on gaining backing. We drew an absolute blank!

It should be noted at the outset that participation in any of the schemes we applied for is restricted to viable businesses only such as our own.

Under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) our turnover exceeded the £25 million upper limit for that scheme.

Equally, we drew a negative response when applying for a Capital for Enterprise (CFE) loan. This time our business turnover exceeded the £11.2m upper limit for the scheme.  Additionally, the money we had put in for exceeded the upper limit for the CFE fund!  Apparently, the money ear-marked for the fund is to help businesses improve cash flow. Shame that there does not seem to be any money available to do so!

Our application for an Enterprise Capital Fund (ECF) drew a similar response to the CFE application.  I hope with all these acronyms flying about you're with me so far?  The only difference here was that in addition to exceeding the £11.2 million upper limit and applying for too much money, our business apparently does not operate in a sector that the ECF supports. So any readers of this blog can immediately eliminate the ECF from their enquiries!

Lastly, our application for Regional Support elicited the same response as the last two.

Basically, this is just another example of Government spin and hot air.  Hey guys, look how good we are, we know you need money so we've created this wonderful guaranteed lending scheme to help you on your way.  Just apply here, it's as simple as one, two, three. You want some money?  How much?  Why?  Just wait a minute while we process your application. You are not eligible! You cannot participate! Now shove off!  Next!

While we're happy we have secure funding lines in place I pity the poor buggers, whether in our industry or not, who have their expectations raised by yet another Government red herring. It's a pity heads cannot roll, literally!

And why can't they just concentrate on getting it right?  It does not take a financial expert to understand why most banks are still very cautious to new lending.  When the Government's re-capitalisation of a few £billion is carrying a coupon of 12% on the preference shares, it is not hard to understand why the banks concerned are less than enthusiastic to lend that money against a base rate measurement of 1.5%.... you do the maths!