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Coronavirus: Crawley businesses urged to check type of loan before borrowing

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Small business owners have been urged to check the type of loan they are signing up to before borrowing against their personal assets, as many have unnecessarily secured personal assets to the future of their business.

Despite the government offering to guarantee interest-free and charge-free loans, which are to be offered by as many as 40 of Britain’s biggest lenders, some banks continue to offer business owners their standard, and more expensive commercial loans, which are secured against their personal property.

Although some banks have said they will stop demanding personal assets, such as property or savings as collateral, the question still remains whether those that have already signed up for this financial help will be able to uncouple their hard-earned assets.

Oliver King, an associate solicitor in corporate law at Langleys Solicitors, said:

“Businesses that quickly found themselves in trouble, due to the current economic situation, may have already taken out loans, and have been obliged to provide additional security and personal guarantees by lenders, which could come back to bite them at a later date.

“Following pressure from the Institute of Directors to stop this practice, we urge the banks that have taken personal guarantees to do the honourable thing and waive the guarantees, rather than punish already hard-pressed SMEs.

“This would need to be a voluntary act by the banks, and one that continues on the current wave of goodwill we have seen in recent weeks, to avoid punishing SMEs further down the line.

“It remains to be seen whether, as the Treasury has indicated they expect, all of the lenders on the scheme to drop the requirement or not.

“There have also been calls for a similar scheme to be opened up to smaller, challenger banks that specialise in lending to SMEs, making them agile enough to make swift decisions, something which is certainly required in the present climate. As well as separate calls to open up the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to all businesses with turnover of less than £45m, as opposed to just those businesses that cannot access other loans.”

“It is essential that any small business looking to benefit from the government’s support programme looks into the details of the loan scheme being offered by any lender, extremely carefully. If directors are in any doubt then they should take immediate legal advice on the implications of the terms being offered to them.

Greater adoption of video call facilities

“Further to this, we may see a development in the way high street banks deal with legal advice. Any individual providing security or a guarantee on behalf of a third party, must obtain independent legal advice on the form, content and effect before proceeding. This absolute requirement is almost never waived, and is done to ensure that the guarantor is under no undue influence or duress to provide the guarantee.

“Previously at high street lenders this has been obliged to be done via a face-to-face meeting. However, in recent years, challenger banks and forward-thinking lenders have permitted this advice to be provided via a video conference call, something which the larger, high street banks have not yet adopted. Although I expect high street banks to miraculously now realise that this can be carried out over the telephone or on a video call and update their practices.”

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Crawley businesses take out over £90m in loans to survive COVID-19

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Statistics released by the Government have revealed the true extent of lending taken up by businesses across Crawley.

According to a release from the office of Crawley’s MP Henry SMith, businesses across Crawley have benefitted from £92,721,494 worth of loans since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes 1,724 Bounce Back Loans worth £51,495,006 and 102 loans at a value of £41,226,488 through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme.

The number is part of the vast number that have been taken out throughout the whole of the south east of England, where a total of 175,946 Bounce Back Loans, worth £5,269,988,799, and 9,026 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, worth £2,154,703,689, have been provided to support businesses across all sectors, protecting jobs and livelihoods.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said;

“This year has been hugely challenging for businesses in Crawley, but these latest figures demonstrate the scale of support that the Government has put in place to protect livelihoods and businesses.

“Never has the Government’s agenda to level up the whole county been so important. I’ll continue to focus on supporting hardworking families across Crawley.”

With cases still rising and worries that more areas across the country may enter tighter restricttions, the Chancellor has also announced that the Government’s Job Support Scheme will be expanded to protect jobs and support businesses required to close their doors as a result of coronavirus restrictions, alongside increasing the cash grants to businesses in England required to shut in local lockdowns to support with fixed costs – worth up to £3,000 per month.

So far, the Government has provided over £200 billion throughout its economic response to coronavirus to support jobs and businesses in the UK.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, commented;

“Our support for businesses and workers has provided a lifeline to employers up and down the country, supporting people to stay in jobs and protecting livelihoods. “We will build on this as we move to the next stage of our recovery through the Winter Economy Plan, which will continue to protect jobs and help businesses through the months ahead.”

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