COVID-19: over £1.1 billion lent to SMEs


News emerged on Wednesday that the UK banking and finance sector has lent more than £1.1 billion to small and medium-sized businesses in order to help them survive during the COVID-19 crisis.

Support has been provided through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

UK Finance said that total lending has increased by 150% to £700 million in the last week.

As the virus continues to spread, many have been financially hit by the economic implications of the illness.

UK Finance said on Wednesday that lenders have received 28,460 applications to the scheme from businesses. More than 6,000 of these have been approved so far and more are expected to be processed and approved over the next few days.

Total lending under the scheme has jumped from £453 million on 6 April to £1.115 billion just a week later, and the average value of a loan has increased to more than £185,000.

“The banking and finance sector recognises the challenging conditions faced by many businesses and the critical role we must play in helping the country get through this crisis,” Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said in a statement.

“Frontline staff in local branches and call centres are working incredibly hard to help firms access finance as quickly as possible amid unprecedented demand. Like all businesses they are working at reduced capacity as many staff are self-isolating or looking after family,” the Chief Executive continued.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “Getting finance to businesses is a key part of our plan to support jobs and the economy during this crisis – and we’re working with lenders to ensure support reaches those in need as soon as physically possible.”

“Loan approvals have doubled in a week with more than 6,000 businesses benefiting from over £1.1 billion of loans – and it’s vital we continue this upward trajectory,” Rishi Sunak added.

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