BCGH in Conversation: Access to Finance during the COVID-19 Crisis

Dan Carins, Productivity Lead for the Black Country LEP Growth Hub, recently sat down with Johnathan Dudley who is the Head of Manufacturing a Crowe UK and Richard Jenkins who is the Area Director for the Black Country, Shropshire and South Staffs at Lloyds Bank. This is part of our BCGH in Conversation series where we sit down with different specialists discuss a particular topic.


This time we wanted to discuss access to finance during COVID-19. Crowe UK has produced a flowchart to help businesses navigate the raft of new measures launched by the Government in response to the crisis.

You can access that by clicking here (version correct as of 21/05/2020)

Johnathan has presented at various webinars recently, talking through each of the initiatives available. There’s a useful online tool available which has been launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which shows what support is available for which business depending on size, sector or location.

There are still gaps in the provision, which is inevitable given the urgency of the crisis. Johnathan has drafted a letter to explain some of those gaps in order to help organisations lobby HM Treasury and BEIS. Giving credit where it’s due, he explained how Government had listened to feedback concerning the insistence on guarantees against assets on loan requests for amounts less than £250,000 which have been removed. This is an indication that lobbying is worthwhile, either through Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce, industry bodies or other memberships organisations.

Richard explained that businesses can apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) from the 40 or so providers approved by the Government. The number of providers has been expanded recently to increase capacity. In the Black Country, Lloyds Bank has been working flat out to process the applications which need to be appraised in line with strict. guidelines set out by the British Business Bank.  There is a balance to be found between supporting banks to lend responsibly, which has been the drive of various legislation of banking since the 2008/9 financial crisis – and getting liquidity to businesses in the volumes required under the scheme. 

A number of businesses have complained to the Growth Hub about the scale of bureaucracy involved in applying for a loan through the CBIL Scheme, which on further questioning, was a reference to the paperwork required.  The requirements are no more than what would be normal for a bank loan: financial accounts, bank statements, a business plan and cashflow forecasts. 

Banks are starting to ramp up the number of applications they have processed.  UK Finance reported on 23rd April that 16,600 loans have been paid out, to the value of £2.8bn, doubling the previous reported total, and published a joint statement from the seven largest SME lenders stressing the effort that is being made in getting the money out of the door.

Whilst businesses are waiting to receive money through the initiatives, such as the Small Business Rates Grant or CBILS, businesses can seek to extend overdrafts from their bank, re-finance assets such as machinery with asset finance providers, chase unpaid invoices and cut out any non-essential direct debits such as subscriptions. 

Banks should be able to use a confirmation email from HMRC that an applicant has successfully applied for the Job Retention Scheme to be able to extend an overdraft facility temporarily until the payment is received.  HMRC has announced it will make payments within six working days of receiving an application.

Lloyds Bank has put together this document that details steps business owners can take during the Covid-19 situation.

Growth Hubs are signposting services, directly funded by government so they can remain impartial.  They host business support information and guidance in one place so you don’t have to search for it.  You can find your local growth hub using this site; businesses in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton can contact us at , or calling 0300 770 2245.

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