Small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK are struggling to grow due to the heavy depreciation of their LCV fleets, according to new research from leasing firm Lex Autolease.

Its ‘Leasing Revolution’ report estimates that almost 70% of the 1.5 million vans registered to British businesses are owned by SMEs and bought using these companies’ cash reserves or with a bank loan.

The firm claimed the average ageofavanownedbyanSMEis eight years and would have lost £10,000 of its purchase price to be worth just £6537.

Lex Autolease boss Tim Porter said: “The billions invested in vehicle ownership could be better used by businesses to pursue new growth opportunities, pay down debts or upgrade essential business infrastructure.”

Lex Autolease said a separate report it conducted found that of 250 senior SME decision-makers surveyed, the vast majority were wedded to the idea of ownership over leasing. Three-quarters admitted to never having leased a vehicle and more than half said they wouldn’t do so in the future.

The firm said that with an average purchase price of £16,448 for a new van, SMEs face a major capital outlay every time they change their fleet, which is typically every four years for those answering the survey.

In contrast, the leasing company argued that leasing offered greater cashflow flexibility and regular access to new vehicles. It claimed the start-up cost of leasing a van was on average £817 for an initial upfront payment and £221 per month thereafter.