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NI Chamber welcomes extension of loans scheme to more small firms

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Drone photos show empty roads in Belfast City Centre.
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

Drone photos show empty roads in Belfast City Centre. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

Drone photos show empty roads in Belfast City Centre. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

Northern Ireland business people have welcomed changes to the Chancellor's coronavirus loan scheme, which open it up to more small businesses.

The new Government support promises an expansion of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to allow "viable" small businesses affected by Covid-19 to apply, no longer limiting it to those unable to secure commercial financing.

Borrowers will no longer have to give personal guarantees for liability for commercial loans under £250,0000.

Ian Henry, president of the NI Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to the concerns of businesses who are urgently trying to access financial support."

Mr Henry said that while there were safety nets for firms, such as rates relief and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak's separate job retention scheme for staff, firms could not survive without income.

"Therefore his extension of the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time is important.

"Also the removal of personal guarantees for all commercial loans below £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals is also very welcome.

"In terms of new support, the introduction of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will also ensure that firms with a turnover in excess of £45m are able to benefit from government-backed support, and closes a significant gap in the existing package that was available.

He added: "It is now critical that banks act quickly to help businesses avail of this support and see the Covid-19 crisis through."

Belfast Telegraph