By Marcus Leach

The level of funding to businesses through invoice finance has risen to its highest value since the start of the recession, according to the latest figures released by the Asset Based Finance Association, (ABFA).

The total funding for businesses using the flexible source of finance has risen by nine per cent compared to last year to £16billion in the third quarter of 2011, with one of the strongest areas of growth in export, supporting the Government’s ambition of seeing an export-led recovery.

However Edward Rimmer, UK chief executive for invoice finance specialist Bibby Financial Services, says more work needs to be done to improve awareness and education for small and medium-sized businesses looking to access this kind of funding, as the number of firms using invoice finance has remained static over the past 12 months.

“The latest figures released by ABFA show the volume of funding to businesses through invoice finance is at its highest level since the recession began. But while we have seen an increase in the value of money advanced, the client numbers have in fact stayed about the same which is in part due to businesses being reluctant to take on more funding," Mr Rimmer said.

“This suggests good growth among those existing businesses, and a positive trend towards larger firms using invoice finance, however more needs to be done by the financial services industry as a whole to make small businesses more aware of the funding options as there are £7.2billion of funds available.

“The future recovery of the economy will be driven by the success of small to medium-sized businesses in the UK, so it is absolutely vital that those businesses do not fail because cashflow dries up, when there are facilities available which bridge the gap between invoices raised and their payment.”

According to ABFA, the level of turnover from British and Irish companies using invoice finance is now at its highest rate standing at £62.3bn for the third quarter of 2011, underlining the view that firms using invoice finance are growing their sales and continuing to trade successfully.

The stats from ABFA have been released as independent research by Bibby Financial Services reveals that just eight per cent of businesses applied for a bank loan during the third quarter in 2011 and that the vast majority of those sampled had not applied for any kind of funding.

“Invoice finance is beneficial for those looking to start in business, or growing their company through to those that have been trading for a long time and for firms looking to restructure their finances. It is also suitable for a wide range of industry sectors from traditional manufacturing, to wholesalers, the service industry as well as transport and construction," Mr Rimmer added.

“For businesses which are looking to move into a period of growth in 2012, now is the time to explore funding options available.”

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