Here are this week’s favourite stories across tech and finance from our Head of PR, Bilal Mahmood. Happy reading!

SMEs advised to push for alternatives

Banks have been accused of failing to offer enough support to unsuccessful loan applicants, after figures showed the government’s bank referral scheme benefited just 230 businesses with about £4m in loans in its first nine months. Under the scheme, Britain’s biggest lenders are required to pass on the details of any small businesses they turn down for loans to designated finance platforms that might then provide the needed funds. Read more

Small businesses number 5.7m

The number of small businesses in the UK now stands at a record 5.7m – almost 200,000 more than a year ago and 2.2m higher than in 2000. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that small businesses accounted for 99.3% of companies in the private sector and employed 16.1m people. Read more

EU looks to tackle tech development with new seed fund

European Commissioner Carlos Moedas, who oversees European Union financing of research projects, is spearheading a plan for the EU to provide €400m in seed money for a €2bn public-private funding operation, whose goal is to help small tech firms gain the scale needed to compete internationally. Read more

Britain’s top firms pay record amounts of tax 

Britain’s top businesses paid an extra 33% in corporation tax last year, according to research by PwC. Members of the 100 Group, which includes a majority of the FTSE 100 along with some of the UK’s largest private firms, paid about £83bn in taxes last year. Corporation tax payments jumped by a third to £6.4bn driven chiefly by a near-12% rise in pre-tax profits. Read more

Black Friday fails to tempt consumers

Higher food spending rather than Black Friday sales led to UK retail sales rising by 1.5% in November compared with the same month the previous year, according to the British Retail Consortium. Non-food sales fell by 2.2% while food sales rose by 3.4% compared with November last year. Read more