Businesses across the region are facing unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Andy Traynor, senior investment executive at FW Capital, looks at financial support available from the government to businesses as we ease out of lockdown and try to adjust to a new normality.

Nobody could have predicted the situation we find ourselves in, and many businesses have had to re-think the way they operate. Even though restrictions have eased, many are still not able to open, or are open with limited capacity. Numerous employees are still on furlough and there has been a predicable wave of redundancies.

The support from the UK government has been widespread and largely welcomed. Back in March, the Chancellor announced an unprecedented package of measures to shore-up the UK economy. This included £330bn of government-backed loans issued on ‘favourable terms’.

The Bounce Back Loan (BBL) scheme was introduced to enable small and medium-sized businesses to access finance quickly, at a time they needed it most. Businesses can borrow up to 25% of their turnover – between £2000 and £50,000 with terms of up to 6 years. The scheme is available through over 25 accredited lenders.

Businesses that require more help than that offered by the BBL scheme can apply for funding from either the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), depending on their size.

Both of these schemes are designed to help businesses who can demonstrate that they would be viable if it were not for the pandemic. CBILS can offer loans to small and medium-sized businesses of up to £5m, depending on the lender. CLBILS is available to larger businesses and can offer financial solutions up to £200m.

If you have not considered applying for a Business Interruption Loan, now is the time to do so as the schemes are officially drawing to a close in Autumn 2020. Although it looks likely there will be other government support available after this time, at the moment it is impossible to say what that might be. I would urge businesses who have been holding off until ‘the right time’ to seriously consider properly evaluating financing options now.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) was established in 2017 to help support businesses across the north of England. At FW Capital we are now able to provide NPIF funds with the backing of a CBILS facility. We can offer loans from £100,000 to £750,000, backed by a guarantee, to help businesses in Lancashire who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

The government has recently rolled out a number of other initiatives to support the economy through this difficult time. For example, the Job Retention Bonus is available to businesses who bring back employees from furlough and will give the business a bonus of £1000 per employee brought back.

A temporary VAT cut has been announced to those businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector – down from 20% to 5%. A new Kickstart Scheme is being launched to create more jobs for young people and help to prevent the predicted mass unemployment.

British business has never faced a crisis that creates so many challenges before, but I am sure the various initiatives introduced have helped countless businesses weather the storm. I urge you to investigate what help and support is available to you now, to give your business the best chance of surviving.

Andy Traynor from FW Capital

Andy Traynor has worked with businesses across Lancashire for 40 years, and has been helping them access funding through the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund for the past three.

More recently, Andy has been helping businesses navigate the financial crisis by facilitating CBILS funding. FW Capital is part of the Boost Business Support network.

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