The government has announced that more small businesses will benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Under the scheme, borrowers can apply for up to £5 million in finance in the form of loans, overdrafts, invoice finance, and/or asset finance. The government will guarantee lenders 80% of the loan value, as well as covering the first 12 months of interest payments and fees.
Under EU State Aid rules, small firms that were classed as ‘undertakings in difficulty’ were unable to make use of the CBILS. Following a considerable amount of UK Government and industry lobbying, the European Commission has now relaxed its State Aid rules. This means that effective 30 July 2020, ‘micro’ businesses with a turnover of less than £9 million and fewer than 50 employees will be exempt from elements of the ‘undertakings in difficulty’ test and can apply for a loan under the CBILS.
Chris Wilford, Head of Financial Services Policy, CBI said:
‘This is an important step that will help more businesses get the critical support they need. These eligibility hurdles have been a real stumbling block for many firms across the UK throughout the crisis. These were put in place to avoid governments bailing out failing companies, but those rules were established in normal times.’
HM Treasury has also made clear its expectation that all accredited CBILS lenders will implement the changes, noting the consequence that businesses whose CBILS applications they have previously declined may now be eligible.