One in eight UK small businesses in arrears on bounce back loan repayments
About one in eight of the 1.5 million small businesses in the UK who were encouraged to take out loans under the COVID-19 Bounce Back Loan Scheme have fallen into arrears on their repayments.
According to a Freedom of Information request to the British Business Bank (BBB), 193,000 firms failed to meet their repayment terms as at June 27. The figure is substantially more than the number officially published by the state-run bank which administered the scheme.
The official number of firms in arrears published by the BBB was 106,000 as at September 30 2021. The lender has also stated that the “overwhelming majority of businesses” were meeting monthly repayments.
Of those in arrears, 151,000 are behind by more than 90 days in making repayments, which is normally considered the benchmark for being in serious financial distress. Those firms owe an outstanding £4.5 billion, The Times reports.
A BBB spokesperson said: “Over 85% of facilities provided across the three Covid loan schemes (bounce back; the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme known as CBILS; and a scheme for larger companies called CLBILS) have either been fully repaid or are meeting monthly payments as scheduled, as at end of March 2022.
“If borrowers have concerns about being able to repay their bounce back loan, they should approach their lender in the first instance to explore the pay as you grow options available under the scheme, or alternative arrangements where appropriate.”