The Government launched the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) to ensure that the smallest businesses could access loans of up to £50,000 in a matter of just days. As of 13 December, the scheme has provided unprecedented support to business across the UK, with more than 1.4 million businesses accessing facilities totaling over £43.5 billion.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been unprecedented demand for banking services, this accompanied with working restrictions due to social distancing has meant banks have faced significant capacity pressures which has limited their ability to meet demand.
The Government have always made clear to lenders that they should open to new customers as soon as it is operationally possible for them to do so. Lenders are fully aware of the current urgency, so we would expect them to respond appropriately to their customers’ needs. Whilst BBLS is 100% guaranteed by the Government, decisions about what products are offered to specific businesses remain commercial decisions for banks and building societies.
The British Business Bank has so far accredited 29 BBLS lenders, including several non-banks and alternative lenders. Some lenders are still inviting applications from new customers, and many of those that are still only open to existing customers are regularly reviewing that position.