Business Finance – Mind the skills gap.

– The Bank of Scotland has said it has become the first Scottish-based bank to move to committed overdrafts for UK SMEs. The move is a response to the concerns of smaller businesses over repayable on demand overdrafts. Business owners and managers say banks could unfairly terminate or reduce their overdraft borrowing facilities without consultation, creating uncertainty and potentially stifling growth.


– The skills gap has reached record levels among UK businesses as more firms than ever before have had recruitment plans thwarted, according to the latest Lloyds TSB Business in Britain survey. Half of UK businesses have experienced difficulties over the last six months, the highest ever figure since the survey began. This compares with just one in five in the early 1990s. IT and business services, manufacturing and communications companies had a harder time hiring over the last six months than at the start of Y2K but the construction industry is hardest hit, with nearly two-thirds reporting a skills shortfall.

– The DTI’s UK Online for Business, Cisco Systems, and the Royal Bank of Scotland have launched an e-business competition offering small companies the chance to win #30,000. It is open to companies with fewer than 250 employees, registered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that use electronic trading and transactions, or use the web to sell, market or deliver products. Prizes of #5,000, #2,000 and #1,000 can be won in regional events and there is a category for the start-up of dotcoms worth #10,000 in cash and #10,000 for equipment.

For details and more on the criteria entry, visit

– The British Bankers Association and Deloitte & Touche have joined forces to produce a joint briefing on e-risk issues within financial services companies. Based on a poll of 50 BBA members and their strength of feeling on challenges posed by e-business, the publication will be launched next month.

– Business performance and future expectations for the manufacturing and service sectors in the North West were stable during the last quarter of 2000, with no dramatic changes, according to a survey by the North West Chambers of Commerce. Business confidence remained high and domestic sales and orders were better than export sales and orders. The quarterly survey also revealed competition remains the largest concern for companies.

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