If your business is struggling financially, you may be able to access bank funding through the CBILS scheme. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) provides financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The scheme is a part of a wider package of government support for UK businesses and employees but remember, the finance available under the CBILS scheme is provided on a commercial basis by banks and other lenders, on normal commercial lending terms. These are loans (or overdrafts), not grants, and there will be interest and fees charged, and the loans will need to be repaid.

CBILS has been significantly expanded along with changes to the scheme’s features and eligibility criteria. The changes mean even more smaller businesses across the UK impacted by the coronavirus crisis can access the funding they need.

Importantly, access to the scheme has been opened up to those smaller businesses who would have previously met the requirements for a commercial facility but would not have been eligible for CBILS. Insufficient security is no longer a condition to access the scheme.

This significantly increases the number of businesses eligible for the scheme. The expanded scheme will be operational with lenders from Monday 6 April 2020.

How it works

British Business Bank operates CBILS via its accredited lenders. There are over 40 of these lenders currently working to provide finance. They include:

  • high-street banks
  • challenger banks
  • asset-based lenders
  • smaller specialist local lenders

A lender can provide up to £5 million in the form of:

  • term loans
  • overdrafts
  • invoice finance
  • asset finance

CBILS gives the lender a government-backed guarantee for the loan repayments to encourage more lending.

The borrower remains fully liable for the debt.

Under the scheme, personal guarantees of any form will not be taken for facilities below £250,000.

For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but:

recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied;

a Principal Private Residence (PPR) cannot be taken as security to support a personal guarantee or as security for a CBILS-backed facility

How to apply

Find a lender 

The first port of call should probably be your current business banker as they will know your business better and are likely to make a decision quicker than a cod contact.

You should approach the lender yourself, ideally via the lender’s website.

Notes: There is high demand for CBILS facilities. Phone lines are likely to be busy and branches may not be able to handle enquiries in person.

Not every accredited lender can provide every type of finance available under CBILS, and the amount of finance offered varies between lenders. Please see the lenders’ websites for more information on the amounts they are able to offer.

The lender makes a decision

The lender has the authority to decide whether to offer you finance.

Under the scheme, lenders will not take personal guarantees of any form for facilities below £250,000.

For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but:

  • they exclude the Principal Private Residence (PPR), and
  • recoveries under these are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied

 If the lender turns your application down

If one lender turns you down, you can still approach other lenders within the scheme.

Access to the scheme has now been opened up to smaller businesses facing cashflow difficulties who previously would not have been eligible for CBILS because they met the requirements for a standard commercial facility.

You may therefore consider re-contacting your lender if you have previously been unsuccessful in securing funding.

Who is eligible?

Your business must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Lenders will need further information to confirm eligibility. All lending decisions remain fully delegated to the 40+ accredited lenders.

Businesses from any sector can apply, except the following:

  • Banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • Public-sector bodies
  • Further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
  • State-funded primary and secondary schools

What lenders will need from you

When you apply for a business loan, most lenders will ask you for the following:

Details of the loan

  • The amount you would like to borrow
  • What the money is for — the lender will check that it’s a suitable business purpose and the right type of finance for your needs
  • The period over which you will make the repayments — the lender will assess whether the loan is affordable for you

Supporting documents

You will need to provide certain evidence to show that you can afford to repay the loan. This is likely to include:

  • Management accounts
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Business plan
  • Historic accounts
  • Details of assets

The above requirements will vary from lender to lender. If you do not have everything listed here, a CBILS loan could still be an option to provide finance to support your business.

Note: For many customers approaching their existing lenders for a smaller facility, the process may be automated and therefore may not require the same level of documentation.


How can Acumenica Group help?

Acumenica are committed to helping their clients and the wider business community navigate their way through these difficult and unprecedented times. If you need help with your CBILS application, pease email alan@acumenica.co.uk or call us on 03330 166559. We ask that you remember that we expect to be extremely busy with this, so priority will be given to businesses who have been worse affected by the outbreak such as businesses operating in the hospitality, tourism and leisure industries.