SMEs believe access to finance could become harder over the next three years, with the late payment of invoices flagged as an area of concern.

A study by MBH Corporation found that while 40% of SME leaders believe applying for funding will become more difficult, just 10% expect the process to become easier. The study shows that 40% of SMEs plan to borrow to fund growth over the next two years. Around a third (33%) believe lending conditions will not change and 17% are unsure what will happen.

Access to funding will be a major issue for SMEs, as nearly one in three (30%) will want to borrow to fund growth over the next two years.

The past year has been hard for business owners with more than one in three (34%) reporting an increase in the time customers take to pay invoices underlining the need for ready access to finance.

But there is good news from the experience of the past year in applying for funding – just 17% of business that applied for loans were rejected. The biggest impact on the business from being turned down was not being able to expand exports or hire staff.

MBH Corporation research last year found that 38% of SMEs applied for Government loans with many planning to pay them back quickly as they are optimistic about the future.

Callum Laing, CEO of MBH Corporation said: “Access to funding is a constant worry for SMEs and being rejected can have major consequences for expansion plans.

“SMEs are generally optimistic about the future as underlined by their plans to access finance for expansion shows. The good news is that experience over the past year shows that SMEs which have applied for finance have been successful.”