Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “There’s an old adage that ‘cash is king’ and we know from our Coronavirus survey that some businesses are about to run out of it.
“The end of the month will be crunch time for many as bills fall due. Businesses could fall like dominos if they can’t get hold of funding to tide them over. This is especially true of those that aren’t trading and have no revenue coming in.
“That’s why we’re offering Growth Hub advisers to help businesses with loan applications. We don’t want to see any business go to the wall if it’s avoidable.
“The advisers can also help businesses to review their current position and work out the best way forward as the current crisis unfolds.
“These are challenging times for everyone so make sure you’re taking advantage of the free support that’s available to help you and your business through this.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) in March as part of the Government’s package to help businesses through the crisis.
They offer advances of up to £5m in the form of loans, overdrafts, invoice finance or asset finance.
These are interest-free for the first year and banks cannot ask directors for personal guarantees on loans up to £250,000.
The Government underwrites 80 per cent of the debt, which limits the bank’s exposure if a borrower defaults.
Even so, businesses have struggled to get hold of the loans, prompting the Government to change the rules following pressure from the British Chambers of Commerce.
Rob added: “CBILS is a great scheme in theory but in practice it hasn’t been working as the Government intended.
“The new rules should make it easier for businesses to access these loans and we’re determined to help them do that.
“Not every business wants to take on debt but, for those that were trading profitably before Coronavirus, a CBILS loan could be just what they need to see them through this crisis.”
More details of CBILS and other help for businesses are available from our toolkit here.
This web resource has been used by more than 6,000 businesses since its launch it in February while nearly 500 businesses have completed our Coronavirus survey.
If you haven’t done the survey yet, click here. We’re using the findings to lobby the Government to plug gaps in the support available to Cumbrian businesses.
The Growth Hub project is receiving up to £2,326,133 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.