MSP Joan McAlpine has raised concerns that those wishing to set up and grow businesses in the south of Scotland region she represents are struggling to access finance.

According to a recent report from Scottish Enterprise – applications from businesses in the south of Scotland for extra funding during the period January to June 2013 had the lowest success rate of over one thousand account managed companies surveyed.

Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) between them have 70 per cent of the lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland.

 The SNP MSP questioned banking representatives when they appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee last Wednesday.  

Ms McAlpine said:

“I represent the south of Scotland, where only 50 per cent of businesses were able to access the required amount, in comparison with 70 per cent in the west of Scotland.

“That seems to me to be a huge gap, particularly given the fact that more businesses in the south of Scotland tried to access finance than did so in the west of Scotland.”

According to the recently published Scottish Enterprise Access to Finance Report, rural businesses are less likely to receive bank loans.

Figures from the report show that only 56 per cent of businesses attempting to access finance in rural areas were successful, compared to 65 per cent in towns and cities.

Ms McAlpine also identified a gap between sectors attempting to access finance – pointing out that those in the financial and business services are much more likely to be successful in their applications for funding than businesses in the tourism sector – which is integral to the economy of the south of Scotland.

“According to Scottish Enterprise’s survey for January to June 2013, tourism has not done particularly well.

“For example, 38 per cent of tourism businesses attempted to access finance, but only half were successful in doing so, whereas 21 per cent of businesses in the financial and business services sector attempted to access finance, and those businesses had an 86 per cent success rate.

“It strikes me that there is a lack of imagination and risk taking when it comes to investing in new businesses and sectors.

“More importantly it seems there has not been a big change in culture if it is so much easier for people in financial and business services to access finance than it is for people in tourism”.

she added:

“the banks seem to be in a state of denial about their failure to adequately finance small to medium sized businesses – of which there are many in Dumfries and Galloway – in different sectors and regions.

“I intend to write to Scottish Enterprise and the banks for more detailed figures to find out why businesses in the region I represent are seemingly struggling to access new funding.”


  •   Ms McAlpine is a substitute member of the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee which is currently conducting an enquiry into access to finance.
  •   The MSP questioned Ken Barclay, Chair, Scotland Board; Managing Director, Corporate Banking, Royal Bank of Scotland at the committee meeting on Wednesday 20th November, a link to the official report of the meeting can be found here: