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Fears for SMEs remain

A new loans facility for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may not be enough to prevent many civils forms from going under, contractors claimed this week.

SMEs will be able to access loans between £1,000 and £1M from a £1bn pot of emergency money to tide them over the economic downturn.

Chancellor Alistair Darling revealed in his pre-budget report that the cash, secured through the European Investment Bank (EIB), would be lent through seven UK banks and would be made available by the end of the year. A further £3bn should be available subsequently.

But the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) warned that some 8,000 jobs in civil engineering SMEs – one fifth of the civils SME workforce – were at immediate risk.

CECA director Rosemary Beales said the help might come too late for many firms.

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