British banks are rapidly rebuilding liquidity after the financial crisis that plunged world markets into chaos and should be better positioned to address the needs of the automotive UK industry.

That more optimistic view of access to credit – a long-time bugbear of the UK auto industry as elsewhere – was expressed yesterday (21 November) by British Bankers Association business finance strategy managing director, Irene Graham, addressing the SMMT’s first ‘Meet the Funder’ event near Birmingham.

“We are doing everything we can to rebuild – all of the banks have focussed on strengthening the balance sheet,” said Graham. “Liquidity has increased five-fold and there are on-going building of buffers so there is not further systemic shock.

“The banks are open for business and are looking to supply the right finance. We are working closely with government and the development of credit easing activity such as the Funding for Lending scheme run by the Bank of England.”

Graham added the financial sector needed to build “mutual understanding” with the car manufacturing sector and that the British Bankers Association had held “strategic discussions” with the SMMT’s Automotive Council.

“We need to understand tooling and what are the critical relationships between the OEMs and suppliers and recognise the supply chain is quite long,” said Graham.

The SMMT-hosted event attracted around 70 suppliers and 25 financial institutions, who met each other in a series of pre-arranged discussions during the day.

Access to finance has been near top of the agenda for the auto industry, particularly in small and medium enterprises.

At the event yesterday, SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, noted how even 18 months ago, the banks would not have been present at such discussions.