Rishi Sunak has announced that businesses can now apply for finance under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme until the end of March 2021 rather than the end of January.

Figures published by HM Treasury show that more than 1.5 million businesses are supported by government-backed coronavirus lending schemes to the tune of £68bn.

More than 34,500 small and micro businesses have accessed a Bounce Back Loan over the past month, with more than 1.4 million enterprises receiving finance through the scheme since it launched in May. This total includes more than 62,000 businesses which have opted to ‘top-up’ their Bounce Back Loans (BBL) to the full £50,000, or a maximum of 25% of their turnover if lower, available through the scheme.

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In addition, around 82,000 businesses have now secured facilities through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIL) scheme which has allowed 675 larger firms to access almost £5bn worth of support.

Stephen Pegge, managing director of commercial finance at UK Finance, said: “The UK’s banking and finance industry continues to support businesses of all sizes across the country to help them through these challenging times.

“As this year draws to a close, over 1.5 million businesses are supported by a government-guaranteed loan scheme with funds totalling over £68bn, demonstrating the unprecedented level of assistance provided to UK enterprises.

“As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt by businesses across the country and particularly in areas facing greater restrictions, the Chancellor’s announcement that the application deadline for the schemes is being extended to the end of March 2021 will give more time for firms to access the finance they need. In addition, SMEs can also ‘top-up’ their Bounce Back Loan to the maximum value of £50,000, or 25% of their turnover if lower.

“It is important to remember that any lending provided under government-backed schemes is a debt not a grant, and so firms should carefully consider their ability to repay before applying.”