A report due to be issued by the UK auto lobby group The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) this week will reveal levels of finance availability substantially lower than previously thought.

The SMMT has been calling for greater access to finance for some time and its report comes just weeks before the British government outlines what are thought to be significant cuts to public spending in a bid to reduce the UK's huge deficit.

"It is fairly clear that not only is lending much lower, it is substantially lower in terms of access to finance," SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt told just-auto.

"Effectively, we are at 20% [of] previous levels. Even [if] you accept access to finance in the last decade was too much, we have gone to the complete reverse of that which is the other extreme."

Everitt insisted the SMMT was not asking for "special pleading" but also highlighted the fact the UK spent less on research and development than other advanced manufacturing countries.

"There are actually spill-over benefits from research and development investment, so there is a strong incentive for government to invest more to maximise broader returns," said Everitt.

The SMMT chief executive also cited the Technology Strategy Board as an example where R&D could play a role, allowing smaller companies in the supply chain to liaise with larger firms.

And ahead of the UK government's comprehensive spending review next month, Everitt praised the roles of secretary of state [minister] for business Vince Cable and business minister Mark Prisk.

"We have nothing to say but pleasant things about Vince and Mark," he said. "They support the Automotive Council - [but] they have some tough battles ahead in terms of the overall public spending settlement."