Scotland SME Access to Finance Report

Report and publications 08 May 2024

Devolved Nation project overview

The make-up of sub-national economies can vary significantly within a particular nation. Factors such as location (urban/ rural/coastal), the background of business owners (gender, age and ethnicity), the local business base, the size/maturity of businesses, and the sectoral make up all have a part to play. This project seeks to understand the extent to which these differing characteristics affect or influence attitudes towards the use of external finance amongst the SME population.

Having supported the Northern Ireland Enterprise Barometer since 2021, the British Business Bank has worked with Enterprise Northern Ireland to better understand the differences between sub-national access to finance economies and developed bespoke interventions accordingly. This series of reports seeks to adopt a similar approach across Wales and Scotland, in partnership with Economic Intelligence Wales and Scottish Enterprise respectively, whilst simultaneously undertaking a Devolved Nations comparison.

Scotland Findings

  • 62% of Scottish SMEs reported using finance
  • 39% requiring additional financing over the next 12 months
  • 68% requiring finance felt confident about securing it

Sub-national findings

  • 54% of Highlands and Islands based SMEs were using finance
  • Aberdeen and North East based SMEs were least inclined to recognise any barriers to finance

Devolved Nations comparison

  • Scotland’s proportion of SMEs using finance was 62%, the highest of all devolved nations, with 56% in Northern Ireland and 49% in Wales.
  • Scotland had a higher proportion of SMEs facing barriers to finance (38%) than Northern Ireland (21%) and Wales (20%)