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CBILS opened up

State aid change allows more firms to access support

Uberior House, Lloyds

Banks are being urged to lend more to firms

Firms denied access to the main government Covid loan scheme will find it easier to get help after changes to state aid guidelines came into effect today.

European Union rules had meant some viable British firms with significant debts were classed as “undertakings in difficulty” (UIDs). This barred them from borrowing through the UK’s coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS).

The EU changed its rules last month so that companies with fewer than 50 employees and a turnover below £9m will not be considered UIDs.

The British Business Bank which runs CBILS put the new rules into force today and the Treasury has contacted other lenders “setting out their expectation” that more firms will receive support.

UK Small business minister Paul Scully said the changes “will mean that even more small firms will be able to access much-needed financial support.”

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) is unaffected by this change.

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Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “This is a welcome move towards helping more British businesses access much-needed finance.

“The UID [undertakings in difficulty] test has caused a lot of frustration, and the IoD has been knocking hard on the door of both government and Brussels to secure this change.

“CBILS will continue to be an important lifeline for firms, especially as some have fallen through the gaps of relief schemes that are now winding down.

“Many viable smaller companies who have focused on growth rather than specific lending criteria have been turned down on account of the UID rule so we hope they will now be able to reapply.

“The onus is now on lenders to heed this development and ensure support reaches where it needs to be.

“As companies look to reopen and restart operations, cash will be tight, so it can’t come soon enough.

“It’s crucial that Government provides sufficient clarity and guidance in its own criteria to lenders to ensure there are no further hold-ups.”

See also

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BGF chief calls for renewal fund to support firms

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