COVID-19 fast-track loan scheme open to struggling Stevenage and North Herts businesses

PUBLISHED: 10:07 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:07 29 April 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the new fast-track loan scheme on Monday. Picture: Supplied

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the new fast-track loan scheme on Monday. Picture: Supplied

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Stevenage and North Hertfordshire businesses have breathed a sigh of relief following the unveiling of the government’s latest relief scheme.

The ‘Bounce Back Loan’ scheme, announced on Monday, means that businesses previously ineligible for financial support will now be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, and access the cash within days.

It is hoped the scheme will be a shot in the arm for many small businesses struggling to stay in credit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of small businesses had fallen through the cracks of the chancellor’s previous aid pledges, with many painting a bleak picture of near financial collapse.

Nicola Hankin, owner of a hair salon in Stevenage High Street, had been told her business “could not be helped,” because her shared premises means she does not have her own business rates account, and therefore cannot claim for the Small Business Grant Fund.

Anisha Joshi, who runs a successful osteopath business in Hitchin, told The Comet that “there was no hope,” for her business, which is on “the brink of administration.”

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“We have no patients coming through the door as everyone has been told to stay at home,” Anisha said. “I can’t pay my staff, I haven’t paid myself, I haven’t slept and I have begged and sobbed down the phone to the local MP and the council.”

Another business owner, who owns a small clothing-based store in Stevenage, has called the fast-track scheme “great news for companies like mine,” and has already contacted her bank with an application.
She had previously called her situation “catastrophic,” and said that there was “absolutely no help.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Our smallest businesses are the backbone of our economy and play a vital role in their communities.

“This new rapid loan scheme will help ensure they get the finance they need quickly to help survive this crisis.”

Businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, and loans will be interest free for the first 12 months. The scheme is designed to bolster – not replace – the “business grants and tax deferrals” already in place.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will launch on May 4 and the government will provide further details about the application process on its website.

To apply, visit gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan


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