One in 12 businesses default on Covid loans, figures show

During the early days of Covid-19, the Government launched three loan schemes to help out businesses as many were forced to close due to lockdowns.

28 July 2022

Around one in 12 businesses have defaulted on the Government-backed loans they took during the pandemic.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed on Thursday that £414 million has so far been paid out to cover loans that have gone bad.

The data is still provisional and the final figures are likely to show much higher numbers.

By some estimates the Government might have to pay out to cover nearly 40% of the £77.1 billion that was lent during the pandemic.

During the early days of Covid-19, the Government launched three loan schemes to help out businesses as many were forced to close because of lockdowns.

Billions of pounds were paid out by banks.

To speed up the loans and to encourage banks to give them out, the Treasury said it would pay up if the businesses were unable to.

It would cover 80% of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans, and 100% of the Bounce Back Loans, which were designed for smaller businesses.

For the first time the data shows what banks have claimed the most.

Metro Bank and Barclays were the two single biggest claimants so far, with the Government paying them £122 million and £88 million respectively for bounce back loans. These banks have claimed back 8.5% and 0.8% of the money they lent from the Government.

Two smaller lenders – Tide and Capital on Tap – have claimed back around a quarter of the money they lent to businesses.

The banks making the biggest claims were keen to stress that these are still early figures.

Tide said its electronic systems were likely quicker to identify and then make claims.

Tide said: “As a business, we offered bounceback loans to help our customers through lockdowns and to support the Government’s efforts to help the economy during the pandemic crisis.

“We have put in claims for NPLs (non-performing loans) more quickly compared to traditional banks which are likely to do so over the coming year.

“Furthermore, the businesses we serve are typically younger, so the risk of failure is much higher. The next 12 months will give a better picture of the NPLs across all the lenders.”

It also pointed out that its lending was “limited” and it has only claimed back £15 million so far. Capital on Tap claimed even less – just £4.7 million.

The data also shows that 85% of all loans have either been fully repaid or monthly payments are being met, while 8% of borrowers have defaulted.

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