How does the COVID Business Interruption Loan work for SMEs?

26th March 2020

Monday marked the first day that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme was available for firms in the UK, allowing them to claim up to £5 million in business loans to help cope with the strict measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

To be eligible for a facility under CIBLS, your business must:

·         Be UK based in its business activity with annual turnover or no more than £45m

·         Have a borrowing proposal which, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered viable by the lender, and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable your business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulty

However, despite guarantees that the government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80 per cent of each loan, the ultimate responsibility for the debt rests solely on the small business borrower.

The business interruption loan scheme will offer a crucial lifeline for many SMEs across the UK, but there will be large number that are concerned with the possibility of having to guarantee at least part of the loan personally. This is one of the few economic eras in which a business owner could be doing everything right and still not be successful, due to some unforeseen circumstance that comes about due to what the Chancellor has called these “unprecedented times”.

This may mean that business owners who are desperate to keep their business afloat and keep their staff employed will have to make difficult decisions as to the risk of being personally exposed to large amounts of debt which, while interest free for 12 months, is by no means always easy to repay for small firms. The full effect of this downturn and lending facility may not be visible until two, three or four years down the line when businesses and founders are struggling to pay off debts which are no longer interest free.

This is an incredibly difficult time for people across the UK both personally and economically. There is a significant threat to the UK’s business community – especially to the small firms which make up the backbone of our economy. Government support has been extensive and wide reaching up to this point – with more to come by all accounts. It is, however, key that the private sector and private investors do not retreat in what is a vital period. Here at IW Capital, we urge the entire community of private UK investors to pull together beyond the period of immediate recovery offered by this Government loan scheme, and safeguard the SME arena – and the UK economy – for the future.

To find out more about IW Capital, or for more information on investment and non-executive opportunities, please speak to a member of the IW Capital team today on 020 7015 2250, or email info@iwcapital.co.uk