Mick McGough put in a few FOIs to find out what had happened to Lord Haningfield's 'Banking on Essex' project.
Despite being launched to great fanfare a year ago, with £50million being set aside to fund it, the council has paid out just £145,000 in loans, matched by bank Santander, but spent £250,000 establishing the scheme in the first place.
A total of 223 businesses have expressed an interest in it, but only ten have received any money, with a further 14 still being considered for loans.
According to the new Council leader,Peter Martin,
"We have over 50,000 SMEs in Essex of which over half have been trading in the county for 10 years. We are proud to be the first Local Authority to offer business banking services, demonstrating the Council’s ability to respond to the needs of local people. Banking on Essex provides a credible alternative to the usual financiers, ensuring easier access to working capital which combined with essential business support services will help local businesses to grow."
So 1 in 500 have succeded in getting access. Resounding sucess boys, even on your terms.
But as Mick puts it,
“If businesses need help then it is not for the taxpayer to shoulder that risk, if the banks won't lend to a company why should we?
“There just seems to be no logic in it – and when are we ever going to get this money back?
“It seems all these grandiose schemes were set up by Lord Haningfield because he wanted to make Essex the leader in all sorts of areas while neglecting the core tasks that councils should be focusing on, like fixing the many pot holes which are all over our streets”.