Farce as banks give coronavirus crisis loans to just 5,000 businesses

Banks have given vital coronavirus crisis loans to just 5,000 small British businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

Of 300,000 enquiries about the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS), fewer than one in 60 resulted in cash handouts.

The scheme – announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month – encourages banks to lend to struggling small businesses as the government will cover 80 per cent of the amount.

Only 5,000 small British businesses have been able to get hold of emergency loans to keep them ticking over during the coronavirus crisis. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the scheme last month

Smaller firms can apply for grants of up to £25,000. 

There are 5.8 million small businesses in Britain and it is feared that many will not survive the coronavirus crisis without the help, The Sunday Times reports. 

But a complex application process and slow replies from banks is holding certain firms back from accessing the funds promised, a British Chamber of Commerce poll found this week. 

Addressing concerns that a small number of applications for business support had been processed, business secretary Alok Sharma said he had held conversations with lenders to speed up loan payouts

Britons could be left without dentists as one in five practices on the brink of collapse

With trips to the dentist plummeting millions of Britons could be left without dental care as one in five practices say they are on the brink of collapse.

A survey carried out by the British Dental Association (BDA) of 2,800 practices found that 71.5 per cent said they could only remain afloat for the next three months at the most, reports The Sunday Times.

And one in five said they wouldn’t last the month.

Most dental practices rely on both NHS and private income, however they are paid for the work they do and due to the coronavirus many are unwilling to have dental work done.

Self employed dentists are eligible for government support if they earn under £50,000, however on average they earn £69,000.

Mick Armstrong who chairs the BDA said: ‘Practices are weeks from a cliff edge. Without meaningful support, the nation’s dental services face decimation.’

Patients with dental emergencies have in some places been forced to attend A &E for treatment as practices are forced to close, overstretching an already at capacity hospital service.

Addressing concerns that a small number of applications for business support had been processed, business secretary Alok Sharma said he had held conversations with lenders to speed up loan payouts.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: ‘I have spent the last couple of days talking directly to some of the largest lenders who are part of this scheme.

‘I am very clear to say to them, we need to get money out of the door as soon as possible and they understand that and banks know on this occasion why they have to be part of the solution and they want to be part of the solution.’

Mr Sharma said £800 million had been paid out as part of 4,200 loans under the coronavirus business support measures.

Asked whether he was worried, the Business Secretary said: ‘Well, of course.

‘It is not just a question of me being worried – I completely understand the concerns that businesses have.’

Just 1 per cent of firms in the UK have successfully accessed the grant, a British Chamber of Commerce poll found.

A total of 8 per cent of the companies that responded had been unsuccessful in their applications.

According to the survey, 7 per cent of respondents are receiving grants. 

But 14 per cent had been unsuccessful in trying to get grants.

Most of these, 83 per cent, said they had not met the criteria, 14 per cent said that the response from authorities was too slow, or did not come at all.

Earlier this month it was revealed that  Britain’s ‘greedy’ banks were ‘taking advantage’ of the crisis and offering interest rates of between seven and 30 per cent on emergency loans – even though the current UK base rate is now at 0.1 per cent.

Irate business owners claim they are being ‘stitched up’ and one told MailOnline today: ‘Banks being the gate keepers of this scheme is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank’. 

A complex application process and slow replies from banks is holding certain firms back from accessing the funds promised. Pictured: Her Majesty’s Treasury

Another fearing for his future said: ‘Britain’s banks are an absolute disgrace. I contacted them over nine days ago without any reply’.

HSBC, Barclays, NatWest, Lloyds and Santander have all been named and shamed by customers as all the UK’s banks were under pressure to deny their bosses their eye-wateringly high bonuses at a time of national emergency.

They have already been pressured into scrapping £9billion in shareholder dividends and are being urged to use the cash to support struggling businesses instead.

Council tells pub landlord trying to get grant to send in three months of unredacted bank statements despite data protection concerns

A pub landlord trying to get hold of a Government grant to keep his business afloat was told to send in three months of unredacted bank statements.

Kyle Michael, owner of The White Swan pub in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, said this would be against guidance from his bank on data protection.

The 49-year-old protested to Buckinghamshire County Council, but an officer told him: ‘If the bank statement is not received, the grant will not be issued.’

Kyle Michael, 49, is the owner of The White Swan pub in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

He told MailOnline: ‘We made the application online as is required, filled out all the information required including company number registration etc.

‘We then received an email back from the council to say that they will only make payments direct into bank accounts, that they required three months backdated bank statements showing all transactions.

‘I understand that they would need to check sort code bank details etc, but they should not have access to daily transactions for a business, nor is it under the Government guidelines to do so. 

‘I challenged Buckinghamshire Council and they came back saying ‘send us the payments, or you don’t get the money’.

The White Swan in Aylesbury is losing £5,000 in revenue each week while it is closed

‘I’ve had to send them, but my concern is that this is unnecessary collection of information and it should be destroyed immediately.

‘I’ve spoken to other businesses who have had the same situation. More importantly we’re being asked to send it via email, which is insecure.’

Mr Michaels continued: ‘We have zero income from the pubs being closed. Of course we abided by the Government advice immediately and closed.’

He said they have applied for job retention scheme but are having to wait for those payments, which are likely to be paid in three weekly arrears – and they are expecting more information on this over the next fortnight.

A Buckinghamshire County Council officer told Mr Michael in an email yesterday (above) that he needed to send over his bank statements or ‘the grant will not be issued’

Mr Michaels had emailed the council to ask why he needed to send the bank statements

Mr Michaels has been the landlord of the pub for five years, but has been in the pub industry for 32 years.

He said the pub’s weekly turnover is about £5,000 – so every week they are losing that amount.

He added that the £10,000 payment they are going to receive from the grant will only keep the business going for two weeks, and they will be claiming on the 80 per cent wages scheme for five staff.

Government guidance states that business owners need to send in management accounts, cash flow forecast, business plan, historic accounts and details of assets – but does not mention bank statements. 

Councillor Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, told MailOnline: ‘Supporting businesses is a top priority for the council and we’re working closely with our local businesses to help them during this difficult time. 

‘We are doing everything we can to make this process as simple as possible and our finance team are working tirelessly to process all the applications and make payments.

‘We are not routinely asking for bank statements as part of the arrangements for paying out these grants, but we may ask for supporting evidence where any queries or discrepancies are identified and will do everything we can do make this process as painless as possible, keeping, as always, to data protection principles.’

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