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UK Small Businesses say There’s no Wizardry in Project Merlin

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– hotfrog Survey Reveals Banks are Still Stalling Business Growth

hotfrog (, the world’s largest global online business directory, today released the results of a survey of more than 500 small businesses in the UK on their experience dealing with banks since the announcement of Project Merlin in Feburary this year. Project Merlin, an agreement between the British Government and four major banks, aims to promote lending to businesses, particularly small businesses. However, the hotfrog survey found that more than 75 percent of respondents have seen no change in their banks approach to lending.

The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents said they would be able to expand their business if they had better access to funding. Of those, more than 80 percent would hire at least one additional staff member, with more than a third (36.6 percent) able to hire more than one.

“If I could get access to additional funding, I could grow my business and quadruple my revenue,” said Mr. Simon Stroud, owner of Testing Made Easy (, a water testing and analysis company in Swindon. “I find that the banks’ attitude towards small business is appalling, it feels like they just don’t see small businesses as a viable investment.”

hotfrog (, which provides a free internet profile to more than four million small businesses in the UK, found that nearly 70 percent (67.6 percent) of small businesses responded that the news of Project Merlin had not changed the way they intend to approach financing. Of these, 36 percent said credit conditions are currently too harsh for small business, 22.5 percent said their business wasn’t big enough for banks to loan them money and 13.7 percent said the cost of borrowing is just still too high.

“According to our survey, UK small businesses see no improvement in bank lending since Project Merlin was announced,” said David Catterall, Managing Director, hotfrog. “The results also show a degree of optimism that if loans were more readily available businesses would be able to expand.”

When asked where they would get quick funding to support their business, by far the biggest response was by using their own personal savings (41.3 percent), with only 19.8 percent of respondents saying they would turn to their bank.

“Most small business owners in the UK are sole traders or self-employed and therefore have a credit history for their personal finances. I believe that banks take advantage of this and use it as an excuse not to lend funds. In order to save funds, I haven’t paid myself for two years. I am fortunate that my partner works and is able to support us both, but not all small business owners are so lucky,” concluded Mr. Stroud.

About hotfrog

Founded in 2005, hotfrog is the largest global online business directory for small businesses, operating in 36 countries with more than 61 million listings. Owned by Reed Business Information, hotfrog offers intelligent marketing tools helping small businesses easily turn listings into new business leads. Year to date there have been more than more than 21 million visits to hotfrog in UK, helping people find the SMB they need. For more information about hotfrog please visit


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