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Gloucestershire Business News

Bounce back loans scheme must be on time

Mike Cherry

The Government must hit its target of having the new bounce back loan scheme live by Monday.

That is according to the Federation of Small Businesses after latest figures showed fewer than half of existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme applications have been approved.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the additional bounce back loans earlier this week, offering help for small businesses with 100 per cent backing from the Government.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry welcomed the announcement, but has reiterated his call for the new system to progress at pace.

He said: "The new bounce back scheme offers real hope in this space.

"We're several weeks into the lockdown - with many business owners having to pay wages, utility bills and rent with no revenue coming in - so its launch can't come soon enough.

"It must be live from 9am on Monday as promised, with money in accounts by the end of next week at the latest."

And he repeated his plea for firms who had yet to secure one of the previous loans to be allowed to change their application.

"Those that have been refused a CBILS facility should be written to with the offer to apply for a bounce back loan and those midway through a CBILS application given the option to change tack," he said.

"It's critical that business owners have access to a streamline bounce back application process through any bank where they hold a consumer or corporate account."

Mr Cherry also stressed the importance of long-term information to help businesses deal with repayments.

"We have no idea what interest rates will look like on bounce back facilities after the initial fee free 12 month period is up.

"We need clarity on that front urgently, with a recognition that these are emergency facilities for firms facing unprecedented hardship."

By the end of Tuesday, UK Finance figures showed 25,262 of the 52,870 applications for a business interruption loan had been processed and approved with an average value of £165,00.

Mr Cherry said: "While the volume of CBILS lending has almost doubled over the last week, the average value of facilities secured through the scheme remains high.

"This initiative has not worked for the small firms that make-up 99 per cent of our business community: customer service has been poor, the application process has been arduous and the wait times for decisions have been lengthy.

"Less than half of applications have been processed, and we know that even getting to the application stage can be a nightmare."

He continued: "We don't even have sight of decline rates or a bank by bank breakdown of how CBILS is progressing.

"There's also a question about capacity here. If the banks are already struggling to process thousands of CBILS applications, how will they manage thousands of bounce back enquiries on top of that?"

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