This constitutes the highest percentage since 2010, according to the quarterly SME Finance Monitor from BDRC Continental.
Despite the drop in demand for finanace there were positive signs at the end of 2013 for SMES. The proportion of SMEs that see the current economic climate as a major obstacle for their business has almost halved from its peak at the start of 2012.
The report found larger SMEs are more likely to be anticipating growth in the year ahead, and analysis by size showed an increasing proportion of larger SMEs predicting growth.
Overall, 48% of all SMEs planned to grow in the 12 months after Q4 2013, and this has remained stable during 2013.
Shiona Davies, director at BDRC Continental, said, “SMEs ended 2013 feeling more positive about the economy. However, there are few signs of this leading to an increased demand for external finance. There is little in the way of frustrated demand, as eight out of ten SMEs are ‘happy non-seekers’ of finance.
“Where applications have been made, there is a clear divide in success rates between on the one hand the larger established businesses or those renewing existing facilities, and on the other the smaller or younger applicants, especially those applying for the first time who are less likely to be successful.”
The research is based on more than 55,000 interviews with SMEs.