Finance forum launched for county

The Lancashire Business Finance Forum is designed to raise understanding of the issues and realities surrounding raising finance for business and will seek to free up more investment and funding. The forum also aims to provide assistance with issues which constrain business cash flow and confidence and aims to offer a supportive and educational role to the business community.

Initiated by North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, the forum plans to undertake an extensive survey of businesses across the region to identify the key challenges and concerns.

Norman Tenray, chair of the forum and director of Longridge-based Obas, said: “The first priority is to establish a clear picture of precisely what is available to regional businesses and to provide advice on preparing credible and achievable business development plans.”

Over time the forum intends to tackle regional and national policy issues, such as the possibilities of localised business banks and investment tax incentives. It will also consider how issues of finance can best dovetail into other business support needs, such as the availability of the appropriate skills and the expansion of export capabilities. The forum is keen to interact with the business community and welcomes feedback with regard to the issues they face.

Norman added: “It’s a sobering reality that many businesses are facing problems accessing acceptable levels of working capital and financing longer term investment plans. Business finance is a very wide area. We are tackling it step by step through research, education and policy. There is a lot of unhelpful noise around the subject and we have decided to take a calm and detailed approach.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the Chamber, said: “Things are undeniably tough for businesses regarding finance at the moment. We are looking both at what is possible right now and also considering what might be desirable over the longer term.”