Not enough money is being lent to smaller businesses by the UK's biggest banks (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)

Business groups are calling for the government's credit easing plans to be put into effect as soon as possible, as latest figures show big UK banks are not lending enough to smaller businesses to help them through the woeful economic times.

According to the Bank of England the UK's five biggest banks fell short of their lending target for small and medium-sized businesses by £1bn.

Banks exceeded their overall business lending target by £25bn in the Project Merlin initiative to get banks pumping capital into businesses, however.

The government announced it would be putting together a credit easing plan in Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement.

There will be £40bn made available to smaller firms in the form of government loans.

"The need to deal with this problem is why we expect the government to introduce an effective credit easing programme," David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), told International Business Times UK.

"It needs to be done. We always thought that credit easing will be much more effective than [lending] targets."

Kern added that banks were getting conflicting messages about being cautious while lending more money.

"The two things are a bit inconsistent. Targets cannot be the vehicle to achieve a full solution to the problem," he said.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is also calling for credit easing to be put in place soon.

"This shortfall strengthens the need for banks to continue to work closely with their customers, especially smaller and medium-sized companies, to help address business needs and to give them more confidence to approach their bank," Matthew Fell, CBI director for competitive markets, said

"There is no doubt that regulatory changes and higher wholesale funding costs have in part constrained banks' ability to lend, so we need to look at a wider range of funding models that will help better match supply and demand.

"That is why it's so important that the government implements the proposed credit easing scheme as soon as possible."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says the slowdown in banks lending to smaller companies is holding them back.

"Even though overall lending is above target, this shows that money is going to bigger businesses and not new and fledgling firms that need it to take advantage of growth opportunities that are there even in these challenging times," John Walker, national chairman of FSB, said.

"Our research in the last two years shows that around a third of businesses are refused credit and this could be reflected in the fact that newer businesses are using more of their own money to fund their business rather than turn to the banks for help."

Walker added that there needed to be "better promotion of the alternatives available" as well as the government carrying out their credit easing plans.

Others feel the banks should be doing more.

"Access to finance has become increasingly problematic for small firms since the onset of the credit crisis - entrepreneurs with viable business ideas and owner-managers with realistic growth prospects for their firms have reported constraints in raising finance from banks," Dr Jonathan M Scott of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) said.

"Given the importance of entrepreneurship and 'entire culture' that has been promoted by the coalition government as one of the ways by which the economy can grow and unemployment can be tackled, the failure of the big five banks to reach the lending targets to small firms that was agreed in Project Merlin is particularly disappointing and runs contrary to the declared aims of the coalition.

"It is the view of ISBE that these banks should increase their lending to small firms with viable business propositions or realistic growth prospects in order to fulfil the potential of small firms and entrepreneurs as the growth engines of the UK economy."