Small lenders face restrictions as UK COVID-19 bailout program ends
LONDON (Reuters) – Some small lenders lending on behalf of Britain’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Program (CBILS) risk running out of taxpayer-funded money to lend before the September 30 deadline for requests, three sources told Reuters.
The British Business Bank (BBB), which oversees CBILS and provides accreditation to participating lenders, has refused to top up allocations to some small lenders as the program draws to a close, said the sources, who declined to be named because the matter was commercially sensitive.
Some of those lenders were hoping to lend more than their initial allocation in the last few weeks of the demand-driven non-capacity program and relied on top-ups to provide timely loans to clients, one of the sources said.
A potential loan shortage coupled with a looming maturity has raised concerns that more businesses may struggle to get the funds they need.
A BBB spokesperson said he treated every request for lender funds on its own merits.
“If, on occasion, we have not been able to support the increased allocation of an individual lender (at the requested level), it is for commercial reasons specific to the individual lender,” added the spokesperson.
The cut in CBILS allocations comes after the BBB said it would allow banks until November 30 to review and approve loan applications received before September 30.
Another source said clients of small lenders who reached CBILS loan limits before September 30 should try the big banks which continue to have large sums to lend.
“The closure of the CBIL program to new applicants from the end of September is a real cause for concern,” Alasdair McPherson, Head of Partnerships at Rangewell Corporate Finance Consultants.
“As with any ‘cut-off date’, we’re going to see a rush of last-minute requests – likely leading to a repeat of the early days of the program when lenders were inundated,” he said.
Young lender ThinCats on Thursday called on UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak to extend CBILS until spring 2021 to support businesses that may have enough liquidity to survive in the short term but may need additional capital beyond that. September.
ThinCats has warned some customers that they may not receive loans unless they apply by August 31, a month before the official deadline, citing a “overwhelming demand.”
The BBB said the government has indicated it will make an announcement on the future of CBILS next month.
Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama