Small businesses on the brink as banks delay 250,000 ‘bounce back’ loans

Linda J. Dodson

NatWest group, which includes RBS, received 290,041 applications and approved 231,164 with a fifth of businesses (58,877) cut off from emergency funding as the application was pending or declined.

HSBC approved more than 140,000 of approximately 167,000 applications. Around 27,000 (16pc) applicants are yet to receive a loan, although this will include complex cases where extra documents are required, the firm said.

Starling Bank has turned down 4,012 of the 32,816 applications. A further 1,291 are still waiting to be processed with 16pc of applications either pending or declined.

Santander, Metro Bank and the Co-operative Bank all have approval rates of 95pc or higher. Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays have both approved more than 240,000 loans. Lloyds’ approval rate is around 98pc. Barclays did not provide further numbers. 

Some banks, such as Metro Bank, do not tell applicants why they have been rejected. 

Most business owners have little choice about which lender to apply to. As The Telegraph previously reported, many were only lending to existing customers leaving those who banked with a non-participating bank high and dry. 

Businesses can be rejected if they don’t fulfill the bank’s fraud checks or meet the criteria of the bounce back scheme. A firm must have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and not have been in financial difficulties at the end of December 2019.

They must also not have made use of other loan schemes such as coronavirus business interruption loans.

Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary for the Labour Party said: “It is clear that there are still serious issues for businesses who are not able to access these loans, or looking to access loans of above £50,000.” He added that the Government should address these problems urgently.

A Government spokesman said: “We have worked closely with the banks to get money out to those who need it, and latest figures show more than a million bounce back loans worth over £34bn have been made to small businesses in just three months.”

A NatWest spokesman said: “We know this is a difficult and stressful time for our business customers, and we’ve been working tirelessly to deliver the government schemes to all eligible customers.”  He added it had provided £11bn to more than 240,000 businesses.

A spokesman for Starling Bank said: “We’re proud to have helped more than 25,000 small business owners with bounce back loans.”

A Metro Bank spokesman said: “We’re committed to supporting our small business customers and are using bounce back loan scheme as widely as possible to support them.”

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