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Barclays profit nearly halves after £2bn coronavirus hit

The bank said pre-tax profit in the UK dropped by two-thirds in the first three months of the year.

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Barclays has lent more than £700m to small businesses under the coronavirus loans scheme (Matt Crossick/PA)

Barclays has lent more than £700m to small businesses under the coronavirus loans scheme (Matt Crossick/PA)

Barclays has lent more than £700m to small businesses under the coronavirus loans scheme (Matt Crossick/PA)

Profit at Barclays fell by more than 42% in the first three months of the year, as the bank took a major hit from the coronavirus crisis, it revealed on Wednesday.

Pre-tax profit dropped from around £1.5 billion to £913 million, bosses said.

It came as the company took a massive £2.1 billion impairment charge, most of it related to the impact of Covid-19.

The pre-tax profit was significantly below forecasts of £1.48 billion.

Barclays boss Jes Staley said the bank had “a good quarter” until Covid-19 hit its business.

“We have taken a £2.1 billion credit impairment charge, which reflects our initial estimates of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Without this charge, pre-tax profit would have reached £3 billion, he added.

It was at home where Barclays was the worst hit.

Pre-tax profit dropped 66% to £220 million in the UK, compared with a 28% drop to £822 million internationally.

Governments around the world have been scrambling to shore up businesses, with many leaning on the banks to step in to give emergency loans.

In the UK, small businesses can apply to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) through their usual lenders.

Mr Staley said: “We welcome the Government and Bank of England’s business support programmes and have introduced additional measures to back UK companies ourselves.”

He added that Barclays has lent £737 million as part of the CBILS. It has also approved more than 238,000 mortgage and loan payment holidays, and six million customers are not paying charges on personal or business overdrafts.

“We expect that all of these measures will help to limit the economic and social impact of the pandemic,” the chief executive said.

But the roll-out has not been without problems.

Many business owners have complained about long waiting times as they scramble to get enough money to stop them collapsing.

One Birmingham-based restaurateur and pub owner told the PA news agency that Barclays “basically told me there is nothing they can do for me and go elsewhere”.

George Kafetzis has been forced to close his sites for 45 days, not including the week that the Government told diners not to eat out.

PA