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Furlough and Covid-19 loans reach nearly £70bn as companies start to reopen

August Graham, PA City Reporter

The Government has paid out more than £25 billion to furloughed UK workers, while guaranteeing nearly £43 billion-worth of loans to businesses across the country, new data has revealed.

Figures released on Tuesday by the Treasury and HMRC show one extent of the Government’s massive spending spree to help sure up a faltering economy hit by the coronavirus crisis.

As ministers ordered Britons to stay at home unless they had to shop for food in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised to do “whatever it takes” to support the companies whose business would be decimated by the decision.

It meant launching three Government-backed loans, the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), a similar scheme for larger businesses called CLBILS, and the bounce-back loans, which help out some of the smallest companies.

Data for last week, released Tuesday, again shows that the bounce-back loans have proved the most popular.

Close to 1.2 million businesses have applied for the loans of up to £50,000.

So far a little under 970,000 have been approved and handed £29.5 billion.

Meanwhile, 105,000 companies have applied for a CBILS loan, 52,000 have been approved, and £11.1 billion has been paid out.

Out of the 745 applicants for CLBILS, 359 have been approved for loans worth £2.3 billion.

The Government also revealed that 1.1 million businesses have furloughed 9.3 million workers, claiming £25.5 billion to cover a portion of their salaries while they cannot work.

The costly programmes were launched to see Britain through the worst of lockdown, but the Government will hope that these can be eased going forward.

The Treasury has already said that companies will have to shoulder some of the burden for paying their furloughed workers from August, before the programme is phased out.

The deadline for new applications to the scheme was set at June 30.

It comes as the economy is preparing to return to some semblance of normality. On Saturday, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 23.