Chancellor announces further coronavirus support for UK businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced 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.

Chancellor announces further coronavirus support for UK businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

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 £45m and £500m.

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.

More than £90m 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. 

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 £1.6bn has been committed. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, said that the government is making “great progress” on getting much-needed support out to businesses to help manage their cash flows. 

He added: “Now I am taking further action by extending our generous loan scheme so even more businesses can benefit. We have also listened to the concerns of some larger businesses affected by COVID-19 and are announcing new support so they can benefit too.”

The Chancellor will also 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.

In a letter to the Chancellor today, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said greater support is needed for those running small businesses who fall between the gap in schemes to support employees and the self-employed.

Key statistics from a survey of 589 FMB members – small and medium-sized builder companies across the country – this week include:

  • 4 in 5 (80%) responders were Directors of Limited companies, of which more than half (58%) receive most of their income through dividends; 
  • Two-thirds of Directors (69%) said that 80% of their monthly PAYE salary (available as a furloughed employee through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) would not provide enough support to them during the lockdown;
  • Of those who said 80% of their PAYE salary was insufficient, 63% work in the domestic renovation, repair and maintenance sector, the part of the construction industry least able to continue to work in line with Public Health advice, and therefore hardest hit by the virus. 
Chief executive Brian Berry said: “The Chancellor has been generous in his support for workers and the self-employed in this time of crisis, but there is a core group who will miss out - those two million people who run and manage businesses and pay themselves through dividends.
“The vast majority of small builders have seen pretty much all their work dry up over the last few weeks, and naturally those running these companies are anxious to know how they will support themselves, their workers, and keep their businesses solvent in the weeks and months ahead. The support for the PAYE part of their income will not be enough for two thirds of builders to live off. Our members are being rejected for loans, and don’t have access to Government cash grants that would go a long way to saving them from being left high and dry.
“We are joining the call with other industry bodies for the Chancellor to reconsider his decision not to cover dividend payments in his income support packages. This could be the lifeline that keeps many small businesses, employing thousands of people, afloat.” 

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, echoed the sentiments and said: “This is a much-needed boost to the financial package available to Scottish businesses. We asked the Chancellor for a rethink to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and he has listened.

“There were gaps, particularly for small and medium-sized companies in the original package. Our message remains the same: Get the cash out the door fast – businesses cannot afford to wait if we are to survive. This is about saving jobs and the livelihoods of millions of employees across all sectors throughout Scotland.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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