North's biggest bank says £58m in Government-backed loans provided to businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Ryan McAleer

NORTHERN Ireland’s largest bank has approved nearly 90 per cent of applications under the UK Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), the Irish News can reveal.

Danske Bank said on Monday that it had approved 257 of 289 applications to date, worth around £58 million.

CBILS allows firms to borrow up to £5m, with 80 per cent guaranteed by the UK Government.

Danske is the first local lender to provide a detailed breakdown for CBILS.

On Thursday, financial trade body UK Finance said around £2.8 billion had been provided to firms up to April 21, with around 46 per cent of the 36,000 applications approved.

Yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new loan scheme for micro businesses, offering up to £50,000 with a 100 per cent UK Government guarantee.

The Government will pay the first 12 months of interest for the new ‘Bounce Back’ loans.

They will be available from 9am on Monday, with banks seemingly instructed to take a light-touch approach.

“There will be no forward-looking tests of business viability; no complex eligibility criteria; just a simple, quick, standard form for businesses to fill in,” said the Chancellor.

“For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.”

On Monday, AIB (formerly First Trust) became the last of Northern Ireland’s ‘big four’ banks to secure accreditation as a CBILS lender from the British Business Bank, more than a month after it was first announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

It’s understood that AIB was fast-tracked for the process, which can normally take up to nine months. The north’s other three main lenders: Danske Bank, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland, qualified to lend by default through their involvement in the former Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme (EFGS).

Ulster Bank said it was not able to break down how many CBILS applications it had approved in Northern Ireland, but said its parent owner NatWest had approved £1.4bn in total across the UK under the scheme.

Ulster Bank said it had supported more than 1,600 business customers to date, approving 95 per cent of requests for help.

AIB said it had dealt with 16,000 calls in the last four weeks, supporting around 2,000 business, mortgage, and personal customers. The lender said 99.7 per cent of all applications to date had received approval.

No figures on support were available from Bank of Ireland at the time of going to print.

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