Pandemic drives dramatic increase in SME borrowing

Gross lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the first three quarters of 2020 reached £54 billion driven by coronavirus (COVID-19) loan schemes, according to figures from trade body UK Finance.

08 Jan 2021

Gross lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the first three quarters of 2020 reached £54 billion driven by coronavirus (COVID-19) loan schemes, according to figures from trade body UK Finance.

That represents more than double the annual total of borrowing reached by SMEs in 2019, UK Finance said.

Nationally, UK lenders have issued 229 Bounce Back loans via the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and ten Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities for every thousand businesses, dwarfing loan approval volumes seen in previous years.

Since the extension of government support from November 2020, UK Finance estimates that £600 million in funding has been made available through the topping-up of existing BBLS facilities.

Commenting on the data, Stephen Pegge, Managing Director of Commercial Finance at UK Finance, said: '2020 was a challenging year with the disruption of COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty ahead of the end of EU transition.

'While the business community in aggregate does not appear overindebted with liquidity reserves and capacity to provide finance strong overall, many individual businesses and some specific sectors are facing significant and much more extended disruption and may find themselves in financial difficulty in 2021.'

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