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Chancellor strengthens support on offer for business as first government-backed loans reach firms in need

Friday April 3rd, 2020

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is today (Friday 3 April) taking further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies.Rushi Sunak

£90 million of business interruption loans approved for nearly 1,000 firms and £1.9 billion corporate finance provided to firms hit by COVID-19

current loan scheme extended so more small businesses can benefit

lenders banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000

new scheme announced to bolster support for larger firms not currently eligible for loans

Chancellor emphasises importance of banks moving quickly to support the economy, jobs and businesses

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is today (Friday 3 April) taking further action to support firms affected by the coronavirus crisis by bolstering business interruption loans for small businesses and announcing a new scheme for larger companies.

More than £90 million of loans to nearly 1,000 small and medium sized firms have been approved under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) since its launch last week. And a government-backed scheme to provide financing to larger companies, being operated by the Bank of England, has also provided almost £1.9 billion of support to firms and a further £1.6 billion has been committed.

To maximise the support available, the Chancellor is extending the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. This will give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus but which they would not lend to without CLBILS. Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month.

The Chancellor will be speaking to bank Chief Executives next week to discuss how the schemes are working and ensure everybody is playing their part.

There have now been over 130,000 enquiries from businesses across the country for business interruption loans, according to latest figures from UK Finance. Some 983 businesses have had finance approved, while banks are processing thousands of loan applications – and scheme changes made today will help them approve loans for the smallest businesses as quickly as possible.

The first firms to receive business interruption loans included Hartlepool-based H.T.E.S (Northern), which provides training and assessment services to the engineering, petrochemical and construction sectors. This company received a £60,000 loan backed by the scheme, enabling it to continue to operate, even though sales have dropped by 75%.

For loans over £250,000, personal guarantees will be limited to just 20% of any amount outstanding on the CBILS lending after any other recoveries from business assets. Lenders were already prohibited from asking business owners to put their house on the line, but today’s changes will provide further reassurance regarding personal assets during this difficult time.

This will apply to finance already offered under the scheme, to ensure that all business owners receive the same level of government protection.

Last week, the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, wrote to banks asking them to support small and medium-sized enterprises in any way they can. This included ensuring interest rates offered to struggling businesses are reasonable and to pass on the benefit of the Government guarantee to those borrowing under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Further information

The number of providers of the CBILS continues to grow and new alternative finance lenders are being accredited under the scheme creating more choice and diversity of supply for smaller businesses. We will update on this in due course.

The CLBILS scheme follows feedback and discussion with business groups and banks and we will continue to consult with them before the details are rolled out.

Adam Marshall, Director-General, BCC (British Chambers of Commerce) said:

“We’re pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to the real-world concerns posed by firms across the UK who are urgently trying to access financial support.

Improvements to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will help firms get access to cash more quickly, and the announcement of a new loan scheme for mid-sized companies closes a significant gap in existing support.

Chambers of Commerce will continue to work with government and the banks to ensure that support reaches businesses at the front line.”

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