Businesses face 'cliff-edge scenario' after only 1% successfully access CBILS

08 April 2020 by
Businesses face 'cliff-edge scenario' after only 1% successfully access CBILS

Results from the second British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker have revealed that most businesses have yet to successfully access government-backed grants and the Business Interruption Loan Schemes (CBILS).

The survey revealed that just 1% of firms had "successfully accessed" CBILS and 7% are now receiving grants, despite 57% of firms claiming they have three months' cash in reserve or less.

Of firms that responded to the survey, 6% confirmed they had already run out of cash.

The data also revealed that 37% of respondents said they were planning to furlough between 75-100% of their workforce "over the next week".

BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall said: "Our latest data shows that many businesses face a cliff-edge scenario, either at the end of this month or over the course of the next quarter."

Marshall said the BCC had seen a "big jump" in the number of firms furloughing staff and that many were now starting to apply for access to government loan and grant schemes to keep themselves afloat.

He said: "It's vital that governments across the UK continue to work closely with business over the coming days. Every minute counts, and governments, local authorities and banks must do everything in their power to ensure support gets to firms on the frontline more quickly."

The latest BCC survey showed that expected take-up is much higher than the Treasury originally thought, with data implying that at least one-third of the UK's private sector workforce will eventually be paid through the scheme.

Responding to the anticipated take-up figures, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation Torsten Bell said: "The cost of the scheme depends on firms' take-up and the length of time workers need to be furloughed for.

"But with recent surveys implying that at least a third of the private sector workforce could be paid through the scheme, it is likely to cost as much as £30b to £40b over three months. The economic and social cost of mass unemployment in the absence of such a scheme would be far, far greater."

The government-backed Job Retention Scheme (JRS) was introduced last month to subsidise 80% of workers' wages and is anticipated to help millions of workers who would otherwise face catastrophic hits to their living standards. The online service to claim is not expected to be available until the end of April.

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