By Marcus Leach

It was announced today (Monday) that the Project Merlin agreement reached between Government and the UK’s 5 leading banks, has fallen behind in their target to lend £76 billion to Britain's small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Figures from the Bank of England highlighted that lending has been behind schedule for two of the three quarters thus far in 2011.

“Today’s figures show that it’s still a real struggle for many small businesses to access the credit that they need to grow," Owen Woodley, CEO of Shawbrook Bank said.

"The supply versus demand argument will no doubt rage on this week, but the response we’ve had since launching Shawbrook a month ago shows the appetite to borrow among SMEs is indisputable.

“Whatever reasons we may be given for the decrease in lending to SMEs, the fact remains that too many credit-worthy small businesses aren’t being given the right finance to grow bigger and stronger.

SMEs need banks that understand their business, take a sensible approach to risk, and can make fast, robust decisions based on common sense. We launched Shawbrook to meet this need in the market, and while we’re not promising to be the answer to the UK’s current economic problems, we hope our specialist approach to lending will help more small businesses grow.”

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