New figures suggest that 60 per cent of van drivers are still being turned down for funding by high street banks, despite the industry as a whole contributing more than £43.8 billion to the UK economy. The study, which was put together by Mercedes Benz, showed that professional van drivers contribute more than £5,600 a year in fuel duty and tax alone, which is more than a fifth of their total income. However, high street banks are still considered a no-no. Two-thirds of SMEs are expected to grow within the next 12 months, but a massive 58 per cent are still seeing their applications for funding turned down. Pre-recession figures from 2007 show that 90 per cent of businesses applying for loans were successfully approved, highlighting just how significant the finance drop in recent years has been. The Bank of England has already noted the fall in lending to small and medium sized businesses under the government's Funding for Lending scheme. In 2014, net lending had decreased by £2.7 billion in the first quarter, with specific SME lending falling by £723 million. The Bank believes that lending to SMEs is more risky in general, and requires higher capital in order to guard against bad loans.æ Interestingly, figures from the bank's industry body (the BBA) showed SMEs repaid £5.2bn of existing loans within the first three months of this year and were holding £138.1bn in cash _ signs of strong economic recovery within the sector. Steve Bridge, managing director for Mercedes-Benz Cans, said: "It is staggering that while business van drivers contribute almost £44 billion to the UK economy, and make up of around 10% of the country's total employment, their significant contribution to the economy is almost certainly forgotten when it comes to Britain's banks. "In order to ensure these businesses grow, whether they are sole traders or SME's, high street lenders need to wise up and give back to such an important part of the economy. "We see great potential in the SME market and want to work with this significant business community to best support them and their vehicle requirements however we can, be it through finance offerings, advice on running their vehicle fleet, or after sales care."