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IoD Says New Figures Show Need For Coronavirus Loan Scheme Changes  

IoD Says New Figures Show Need For Coronavirus Loan Scheme Changes  
30th April 2020
 

The Institute of Directors has called on the government to improve and widen the scope of coronavirus finance available to small and medium-sized firms.

Their new figures suggest that many businesses are reluctant to engage with the current loan system, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The IoD is the UK's largest membership organisation for business leaders with over 30,000 members. It is the UK’s longest-running organisation for professional leaders, having been founded in 1903 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1906. 

“The government’s coronavirus loan scheme still isn’t firing on all cylinders for business, despite the recent uptick in lending. Without significant changes soon, its ability to keep companies afloat through this period will be limited."

–Tej Parikh

Chief Economist, Institute of Directors

 

Half of business leaders said CBILS unsuitable for them

 

In a survey of almost nine hundred SME business leaders, almost half said CBILS wasn’t suitable for their organisation right now. A further 25% felt they weren’t eligible for the loans. Around 14% had so far directly engaged with the system, including the 2% that have had their application rejected.

The complexity of the application procedures were highlighted, such as needing to provide detailed forecasts, and lengthy processing times, often taking weeks rather than days. These were identified as key factors limiting engagement with the system. Commenting on the figures, Kevin Hollinrake MP, chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking, argued that “improvements must be made quickly.” 

879 SME directors responded to the survey, which was conducted between 17-23 April 2020.

 

IoD's advice for SMEs

 

Those surveyed were more likely to reduce operational costs or make redundancies first, rather than take on external finance if they had to improve their financial situation.

The IoD set out a number of potential options to improve the effectiveness and appeal of the loan scheme to ensure more businesses are able to make use of it, including:

 

  • The government should update the viability criteria with a consistent and transparent affordability standard, as some CBILS lenders are applying stricter standards or require more paperwork
  • Extend the government-backed guarantee to 100% for small businesses, and consider extending the loan repayment period
  • Accredit more lenders, particularly specialist non-bank lenders
  • Create a liquidity facility for accredited non-bank lenders to borrow funds to expand their lending to SMEs

 

The IoD also called for other measures to help firms that are less able to access CBILS, including:

 

  • Explore extending government-backed overdraft facilities for small businesses
  • Develop a “Resilience Fund” to extend grants to micro-businesses that do not have ample access to support through existing schemes (e.g. due to CBILS rejections/ineligibility, partial income support, or small firms without premises)

 

"The Treasury’s loan scheme has started to make some headway, but for far too many businesses it’s still not delivering on the ground."

– Kevin Hollinrake MP

Chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking

Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The government’s coronavirus loan scheme still isn’t firing on all cylinders for business, despite the recent uptick in lending. Without significant changes soon, its ability to keep companies afloat through this period will be limited.

“The loan scheme is crucial to ensuring the government’s wider economic support can be effective. The furloughing scheme is vital to prevent job losses, but it can’t operate if companies are forced under. There are currently too many administrative hoops for business leaders to jump through, money needs to be getting into their accounts far quicker.

"Directors are understandably reluctant to take on debt when there’s little light at the end of the tunnel. In some cases, targeted grants may be the only viable solution to keeping firms going.”

Kevin Hollinrake MP, Chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking, said:

“Throughout the crisis, the Chancellor has been willing to listen to feedback and adapt the government’s economic response. The Treasury’s loan scheme has started to make some headway, but for far too many businesses it’s still not delivering on the ground. To ensure the scheme fulfils its objectives, improvements must be made quickly, or countless small firms will be left out in the cold.”

Picture: An image of some paperwork, with a close up on some pens and coins

Article written by Ella Tansley – published 30th April 2020

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