The UK Treasury has dolled out more than £50bn ($65bn) in loans to firms that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic thus far, according to new figures.
Up to 2 August, more than £34bn had been handed out under the “bounce back” scheme, which allows eligible small businesses to access loans of up to £50,000 backed by a 100% government guarantee.
A further £13bn has been issued through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), which offers 80% government-backed loans.
And some £3.3bn has been handed out to larger firms as part of the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS).
Separately, the government has given £534m to startups as part of its Future Fund initiative.
The government is also continuing to support the salaries of about 9.6 million workers who have been furloughed under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.
HM Revenue and Customs said that some 1.2 million businesses are claiming £33.8bn in wage subsidies.
The speed at which small businesses are taking out loans under the bounce back scheme has been described as an “incredible red flag” by the Institute for Government.
Launched in early May, the programme is by far the most popular form of coronavirus support loan offered to small and medium-sized businesses, with firms borrowing more than double the total lent by the other two support schemes.
“I would raise a flag over the speed with which the Bounce Back loans have gone out the door,” Giles Wilkes, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government, told the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons in June.
Bounce back loans were launched in response to criticism of the slow speed of the government’s coronavirus business interruption loans (CBILS).
The 100% state guarantee requires banks to conduct only basic money laundering and fraud checks before handing out the loans.