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Iwoca calls on UK banks to refer SMEs awaiting Covid relief to alternative lenders

Iwoca calls on UK banks to refer SMEs awaiting Covid relief to alternative lenders

UK fintech business lender iwoca is calling for greater collaboration with the nation's largest banks after raising £100 million to support SME's seeking financing through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The pandemic has seen banks receive huge demand from businesses for financial support. More than 7000 CBILS facilities per month have been approved since May, similar to the volume of loan approvals for SMEs before Covid-19.

However, the additional operational pressures for banks in approving over one million Bounce Back Loans and providing consumer credit support means that thousands of small businesses are facing delays in their CBILS applications, says iwoca.

Analysis of HM Treasury data reveals that the gap between the number of CBILS applications and approvals has grown every week since the launch of Bounce Back Loans, rising from 40,560 in mid May to 58,707. Demand for CBILS has remained consistent over this period, with an average of 3,481 new weekly applications - one every three minutes.

With CBILS due to close in September, demand is expected to rise over the coming weeks as other government support measures such as the Job Retention Scheme wind down.

Iwoca estimates that a large number of the 790,000 firms with more than £250,000 in annual revenues could yet apply for CBILS, adding to the burden on large lenders dealing with unprecedented demand for finance from small businesses who are going through the application process.

Iwoca is calling on the largest banks to refer businesses stuck in the queue or those with incomplete applications to alternative lenders. The firm says it will provide a dedicated relationship manager to every business which applies for a CBILS facility up to £350,000 to help guide them through the process.

Christoph Rieche, CEO of iwoca says: "Banks must work with us. It’s not acceptable that thousands of the businesses applying for CBILS are left hanging for weeks or even months without getting a decision from their bank. As an industry we have a joint responsibility in supporting this effort so that SMEs can access finance fast to survive and thrive.”

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