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Businesses say they are still struggling to secure emergency loans backed by the UK government nearly three weeks after the rescue package was announced — and smaller companies are among the hardest hit. 

A fifth of small businesses say they plan to apply for the state-backed coronavirus business interruption loans (CBILS) to insulate them from damage caused by the coronavirus lockdown. 

However, a survey of smaller firms by the British Chambers of Commerce last week found that just one per cent of respondents had managed to access the scheme via their banks. 

Initial problems forced the government to reform the system, but companies seeking emergency funding have criticised the scheme for imposing harsh conditions on borrowers and for its slow delivery, with widespread reports of delays and confusion among banks.

The FT wants to hear from readers running small business to hear about their experiences of the business loans scheme, and other aspects of the government’s support packages — including growing calls to support small businesses and self-employed people who fall between the cracks

Claer Barrett, the FT’s personal finance editor, was online to hear your views and answer reader questions about financial support.

Claer discussed these issues with special guest Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, the lobby group for freelancers and the self-employed. 

Editor’s note

The Financial Times is making key coronavirus coverage free to read to help everyone stay informed. Find the latest here.

“IPSE has been contacted by hundreds of limited company directors who have seen their work stop completely and who are desperately worried about how they will pay their bills and feed their families,” he says.

“We have relayed their plight to the government, and we’ve been doing some thinking about what a workable support package could look like.”

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