45,000 businesses in Northern Ireland borrow £2 billion in government Covid scheme

Mark Sterritt, UK network director (Northern Ireland) at British Business Bank
Gary McDonald Business Editor

CLOSE to 45,000 businesses in Northern Ireland benefited from more than £2 billion of funding under the UK government's two biggest coronavirus loan schemes, new figures show.

Data from the British Business Bank revealed that 2,438 firms borrowed £800 million from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which provided loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5m to businesses with a turnover less than £45m.

And 42,544 companies tapped into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), securing loans worth nearly £1.3 billion. It provides a six-year term loan from £2,000 up to 25 per cent of a business’ turnover, with a limit of £50,000.

The British Business Bank also published data on how the 'Future Fund' has supported businesses during the pandemic.

Some 1,190 companies across the UK have had their applications completed to access £1.14 billion worth of convertible loan agreements.

Among them, 13 businesses in Northern Ireland accessed £11.6m worth of convertible loan agreements.

In the UK as a whole, banks funnelled more than £79 billion in government-backed loans to companies trying to stay afloat, including £4.2 billion in the final days of three loan schemes before the June 30 expiry.

Mark Sterritt, UK network director (Northern Ireland) at British Business Bank, said: “These schemes have been a vital part of the government’s response to the pandemic.

“They provided businesses with much-needed breathing space and reducing cash-flow concerns for many, and we’re pleased to see evidence that they have helped smaller businesses right across Northern Ireland.”

Among the recipients of a CBILS loan was Kerr’s Tyres in Belfast and Newtownards, whose managing director Norman Kerr said: “Before coronavirus, we’d put all our cash reserves towards building a new headquarters.

“Without the financial support from CBILS, our cash flow would have dried up and there’s a possibility we’d have had to close.”

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