UK’s SMEs Grapple with Credit Crunch: The Surprising Financial Lifeline Many Are Clinging To

The Underlying Financial Strain in Small Businesses

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Key Takeaways:

  • Over half of UK’s SMEs rely on credit cards for daily business operations.
  • Asset finance predicted to boost UK GDP by £7.6 billion and create over 114,800 jobs by 2025.
  • Retail sector SMEs and Scottish businesses lead in credit card usage for financing.

In an illuminating revelation, a recent report indicates that over 50% of the United Kingdom’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are now relying on credit cards to manage their day-to-day business activities. This dependency highlights a critical shift in financial strategies amongst SMEs, particularly against the backdrop of economic challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing energy crisis.

Credit Cards: A Double-Edged Sword

While the accessibility of credit cards makes them a go-to option, their limitations and vulnerability to high interest rates paint a concerning picture. The GRENKE UK’s “Lease of Life” report, examining 600 UK business owners, underscores this trend. The report found that the retail sector is particularly prone to using credit cards, with nearly 60% resorting to this form of financing. Regionally, Scotland emerges as the highest user, with 60% of SMEs favoring credit cards over other financial avenues.

The Overlooked Avenue of Asset Finance

Despite the popularity of credit cards, there is a significant underutilization of asset finance, a potentially more sustainable and efficient form of funding. Although two-thirds of the surveyed SMEs considered asset finance, 10% felt hampered by a lack of adequate information to pursue this route. This gap in understanding and utilization highlights an area ripe for development and support within the UK’s SME sector.

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David Horton, Managing Director of Sales at GRENKE UK, expresses concern over this trend, stating, “While credit cards may be easy to secure, it is surprising how many SMEs have become reliant on this type of finance to fund their business. As high interest rates begin to impact demand, employment, and business confidence, it’s critical for SMEs to be more aware of their financial options.”

The Potential and Impact of Asset Finance

Looking forward, the role of asset finance in bolstering SMEs is not just promising but also potentially transformative. It’s estimated that increased adoption of asset finance across various industries could contribute a staggering £7.6 billion annually to the UK’s GDP, while also creating up to 114,800 jobs by 2025.

Specifically, the manufacturing sector demonstrates the efficacy of asset finance, with nearly a third of SMEs in this sector already reaping benefits, contributing £216 million to the UK’s Gross Value Added (GVA). Yorkshire and the Humber region stands out for successfully leveraging asset finance to support employment and business growth.

A Time for Action and Awareness

This pivotal report not only emphasizes the current contribution of asset finance to SMEs and the economy but also highlights the growth potential that remains largely untapped. Horton adds, “This landmark report showcases asset finance’s current and potential contributions, providing a beacon of hope for SMEs facing the pressures of higher interest rates.”

Conclusion: A Call for Strategic Financial Planning

The findings of the “Lease of Life” report act as a clarion call for SMEs and financial advisors alike. It’s crucial for SMEs to broaden their financial literacy and explore alternative, more sustainable financing options like asset finance. In doing so, not only can they shield themselves from the volatile nature of high-interest credit options, but they can also contribute more robustly to the broader economic landscape of the UK.

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For further insights and to access the full report, visit GRENKE UK’s Report.


GRENKE UK is a pivotal entity in providing leasing and factoring solutions, fostering the growth of businesses across the UK. As part of The GRENKE Group, it stands as a global financing partner dedicated to small and medium-sized companies, offering a range of tailored financial products and services.

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