High street lenders are failing to ‘rise to the challenge’ of supporting small retail businesses during the Covid-19 crisis, according to Bira.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said new government figures revealing that only 1.4% of applications for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme had been successful were “no surprise”.
The figures have been released almost three weeks after Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses with loans and other financing of up to £5m each. However, so far just 4,200 of the estimated 300,000 firms that sought help have received rescue loans.
Bira reported tens of thousands of firms are understood to have made formal applications but only a fraction have been given the go-ahead.
Earlier this month, an exclusive Bira members’ survey revealed only 1% of members who had applied for a CBILS had been successful, with many others “frustrated” by lengthy waiting times and hurdles to navigate.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “The stats at the weekend come as no surprise to Bira. We asked our members a few weeks ago and only 1% of members had had success with CBILS.
“The banks will claim a lack of people, change in processes and high demand as reasons for the low numbers of business benefitting. The truth of the matter is the banks did not rise to the challenge in the first instance and are now on the back foot.”
He added: “The government has to realise that none of the support schemes (grants, loans) are helping the vast majority of businesses as yet, and with no cash coming into the business, these businesses will fold and not re-open.”