Mark Sismey-Durrant, chief executive officer at Hampshire Trust Bank | 16:57 Wednesday 28th February 2018
While we have seen a slight dip in the latest revised GDP figures, there are plenty of positive signs of growth for the year ahead.
At this crucial time in our economic recovery, we believe specialist banks have a vital role to play in helping to fund this growth and enabling UK SMEs – the engine room of the economy – to invest in the future.
According to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, productivity levels are on the rise, with the UK experiencing the strongest two quarters of growth since 2008. This will be welcome news to policymakers that have struggled to fix the productivity problem that has blighted the UK since the financial crisis. In addition, the Bank of England is signalling that the economy is recovering to some degree, which is positive news and shows the resilience of the SME sector, which makes up the vast majority of British businesses.
Confidence levels also appear to be on the rise. Indeed, our SME Growth Watch report found half of all small businesses (51%) feel confident about their long-term economic prospects. In addition, GfK's Consumer Confidence Index increased by four points in January, showing a rebounding sense of optimism.
What's important now is how we help businesses harness this opportunity to succeed in the year ahead and that we continue to fund growth, so we can continue to see positive economic progress throughout 2018 and beyond.
At Hampshire Trust Bank, we are proud to support smaller businesses in the sectors in which we operate and are committed to helping fund this sector now and in the future. In 2017, we funded the construction of more than 700 homes, working with SME housebuilders across the country. In total, last year we funded and provided savings accounts for more than 4,500 firms as well as 4,500 individuals, financing everything from vans and agricultural equipment, through to mortgages and property development.
We are looking forward to the year ahead and helping SMEs make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. We recognise that there are challenges ahead and that difficulties surrounding Brexit negotiations are not creating the certainty that businesses need to plan for the future. However, we are positive that SMEs will dig deep and carry on, as they always do. Hampshire Trust Bank will be there to help fund their growth wherever we can.
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