Dealer-based finance deals 'up 36%'

The value of consumer finance provided by dealerships for new cars last year increased by around a third, industry data shows.

The 36% rise in value coincided with a 27% rise in the number of new cars paid for by that method, the equivalent of 140,000 extra cars on the total for 2011, according to the Finance & Leasing Association.

Overall, 1.91 million new and used cars were financed through dealerships last year, both by individuals and businesses, up 14% on the 1.67 million total for 2011.

The proportion of private sales of new cars financed by members of the association also rose significantly, from 63.5% the previous year to 71.2% in 2012.

Firms providing finance for used cars also did well, the data shows. Growth in 2012 was recorded at 8% compared with the year before.

The Finance & Leasing Association's Paul Harrison said: "These figures show that customers want good-value deals and are finding them.

"The number of cars financed by FLA members is at its highest level since before the start of the recent financial crisis.

"The factors underpinning consumer confidence in motor finance seem likely to continue.

"And a quarter of all showrooms are now approved under the FLA's specialist automotive finance initiative which helps ensure high levels of understanding of the finance options available to customers."

Another way for companies to improve understanding of customer needs and limitations is through skills training for their staff.

The Employer Ownership pilot has a fund of £240 million designed to create training programmes within businesses in all sectors and of all sizes. Schemes include apprenticeships and supply chain training and the second round of applications is now underway, with a March 28 deadline.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "For British businesses to succeed and compete in the global race, they need a highly-skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of the future.

"With applications for round two now open, I would urge businesses, particularly small companies, to consider how the fund can help them grow, from creating new apprenticeship programmes to setting up specialist training academies."

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