Firms bullish about future

Funding: Keith Williams, right, and William Beckett from William Beckett Plastics, one of the Sheffield companies which UK Steel Enterprise has supported.
Funding: Keith Williams, right, and William Beckett from William Beckett Plastics, one of the Sheffield companies which UK Steel Enterprise has supported.
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Companies across South Yorkshire are “surprisingly bullish” about the future, despite the economic pressure the UK is under, according to UK Steel Enterprise.

The corporate finance specialist says two out of five small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Sheffield City Region expect to seek finance for expansion during the next year.

Nearly two thirds expected to be at least partially successful in finding external funding and more than half were confident or very confident about securing support, according to a survey carried out on UK Steel Enterprise’s behalf by Parker PR.

Keith Williams, UK Steel Enterprise regional manager for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “This is very positive – more positive than I would have expected given the current environment and amount of negative economic news reported recently.

“This should be seen as an encouraging sign but we may need to temper that optimism given the delicate balance in the confidence that businesses have in obtaining the funding from various sources.”

More than a third wanted additional funding for expansion and one in four were looking for working capital. Although banks were the first port of call for the biggest proportion of SMEs surveyed, only one in three firms were confident or very confident of securing bank support.

Mr Wiliams said: “It is not surprising that businesses are feeling less than buoyant about obtaining finance given the constant negative stories we hear reported but we need to see strategies put in place to support business growth.

“Respondents to the survey put forward a raft of suggestions that would help, and by no means were all of them about cutting rates or red tape; although we did see strong calls for that.

“Businesses need guidance and advice in planning as much as they need finance and many asked for just that.

“We work closely with our clients to make sure the business plan is robust and the growth sustainable.”

UK Steel Enterprise was established in 1975 to encourage economic development and job creation in areas hit by steel closures and cuts and is now a subsidiary of Tata Steel.

The company has invested more than £78 million, which has led to the creation of 60,000 jobs, since UK Steel Enterprise was launched.

A further 11,500 jobs have been created at a number of business centres, built by the organisation.