May 7, 2020 / 8:52 AM / a month ago

UK banks' lending to COVID-19-hit firms rises to 5.5 bln pounds

LONDON, May 7 (Reuters) - British banks’ lending to firms hit by the coronavirus under the government’s main loan guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized firms has risen to 5.5 billion pounds ($6.8 billion) from 4.1 billion pounds last week, industry data showed on Thursday.

Regulators and politicians have criticised banks for the slow pace of lending under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBIL), which is 80% guaranteed by the taxpayer.

UK Finance, the trade body for lenders, said its members had approved 33,812 of the 62,674 completed loan applications they had received as of May 6.

This represents a growing number of rejected or unprocessed applications compared with the 52,807 applications received up to April 28, of which 25,262 were approved.

“Any financing provided under the CBIL or BBL schemes is a debt not a grant, and so firms should carefully consider their ability to repay before applying,” UK Finance’s chief executive, Stephen Jones, said. ($1 = 0.8088 pounds) (Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Michael Holden)

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