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Brentwood Liberal Democrats

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Just 10 firms helped by £50m Essex bank fund

May 20, 2010 12:00 AM
In Brentwood Gazette
Cllr David Kendall

Cllr David Kendall

STRUGGLING businesses shouldn't bank on anything from Essex County Council, according to shocking new figures.

Just ten loans have been granted from 223 enquiries made since the authority launched it's Banking On Essex money lending scheme in April last year.

The total value of loans handed to businesses through the initiative stands at just £290,000 and there are only 14 loan applications still waiting for a decision. £50million was originally set aside for the scheme.

The low uptake figures have been exposed by Brentwood's Lib Dem party leader and county councillor, David Kendall.

Cllr Kendall, who from the very start raised questions and concerns over the previously dubbed "pioneering initiative", said: "After all the hype and publicity surrounding the launch of Banking on Essex I was really hoping that this scheme would provide much-needed help and support to small businesses in Essex who have been struggling to borrow money from High Street banks.

"However it would appear that from the small number of loan applications approved to date, that borrowing money from Banking on Essex has not been any easier."

The £50million Essex taxpayer-backed scheme, run by the county council and commercial bank Santander, was launched a year ago in a bid to save lifeblood Essex firms by offering loans at competitive interest rates.

It can give secure or unsecured loans of up to £100,000 to eligible businesses in Essex.

Cllr Kendall, who owns his own carpet and upholstery cleaning business, however, has further, as yet unanswered, questions for the county council.

These include uncovering the amount spent on setting up the scheme and how it has been promoted and advertised to businesses.

He said: "If the economy in Essex is going to be given the kick-start it badly needs then Banking on Essex should be playing a much more proactive role in promoting what it can offer to small businesses and certainly giving them more support than they are at the moment.

"I will continue to monitor how residents' money is being used and hold the Conservative administration to account."

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