April 8, 2020 @ 14:46 by Richard Dawson
The latest data from the British Chambers of Commerce’ Business Impact Tracker reveals that most businesses have not yet successfully accessed the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the grants available to small businesses.
Headline figures from the businesses organisation’s weekly tracker poll, which received more than 1000 responses last week and is the largest independent survey of its kind in the UK, showed that just 1 per cent of firms have accessed CBILS and 7 per cent are receiving grants.
The tracker also noted that 57 per cent have three months cash in reserve or less, with 6 per cent of respondents having already run out of cash.
37 per cent of respondents said they were planning to furlough between 75 and 100 per cent of their workforce over the next week.
A second set of polling was conducted from April 1 to 3, and followed further announcements made by the Government to strengthen CBILS and expand support to mid-sized firms.
The complexity of the CBILS application process and a slow response from the relevant body were cited as reasons for businesses being unable to access support.
It is hoped that the Government’s announcements made on April 2 intended to improve access to the scheme will see success rates increase.
Commenting on the results, Dr Adam Marshal, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our latest data shows that many businesses face a cliff-edge scenario, either at the end of this month or over the course of the next quarter.
“We’ve seen a big jump in the number of firms furloughing staff, and many are now starting to apply for access to government loan and grant schemes to keep themselves afloat. Yet our research suggests that support is only starting to reach firms on the ground.
“We are pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to our calls to strengthen the existing support. Improvements to the CBILS scheme should help more businesses get access to the cash they need over the coming days and weeks. This could be the difference between survival and insolvency for many firms.
“It’s vital that governments across the UK continue to work closely with business over the coming days. Every minute counts, and governments, local authorities and banks must do everything in their power to ensure support gets to firms on the front line more quickly.”