Lenders have now provided more than £2.8bn in business interruption loans to SMEs, after approvals increased 120 percent in a week.
Total lending under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) doubled in the week from April 14 to April 21, with an increase of £1.45bn.
More than 9,000 loans have been provided in the same period, with the total number approved increasing by almost 120 per cent to over 16,600.
Lenders have received more than 36,000 completed applications so far and a precise total of 16,624 of these have been approved to date, while others are still being processed and may be approved in the coming days.
The approval rate for the scheme now stands at around 46 percent, a rise from last week’s figure of 21 percent.
UK Finance, which released the figures today, said half of all loans provided through the CBILS have been approved in the past eight days alone. But despite the increase, there remain concerns about the acceleration of approvals and complexity around the application process.
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce, said: “The number of applications processed and approved will need to be increased significantly in what is a crunch week for firms urgently trying to access financial support.
"Our Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker tells us that a concerningly high number of businesses are still finding accessing the scheme too complex and too lengthy. The government and financial institutions must continue to work together to identify practical steps to improve the workings of the CBILS scheme to ensure that cash gets to the frontline as quickly as possible.”
The Confederation of British Industry this week said the loans should be repayable over 10 years, not the current maximum of six, while Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the government should up its guarantee on emergency loans with values under £30,000 from 80 percent to 100 percent.
He added: "That, combined with the streamlined application process that should be in place for facilities of this size, should help to get more cash to the small firms that really need it. We appreciate that many banks need to make backroom adjustments to facilitate commercial loans worth under £25,000 due to the Consumer Credit Act. It’s important that these adjustments are made swiftly.”
Last week, UK Finance reported that in the early days of the CBILS, just 2,500 businesses had secured an interruption loan.
In addition to the finance provided through CBILS, the trade body said lenders are continuing to provide capital repayment holidays, overdrafts and working capital extensions to help businesses manage their costs. Additional support is being given to businesses furloughing their employees, to help them manage cashflow while they await receipt of a grant.
Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “Frontline staff have been working tirelessly to get money to those viable businesses that need it as quickly as possible, with over £2.8bn of lending provided to 16,000 firms so far.
"This lending forms part of a broad package of support provided to SMEs including additional loans, capital repayment holidays, extended overdrafts and asset-based finance.”