LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - British small businesses have borrowed more than 14 billion pounds ($17.1 billion) under a government-guaranteed coronavirus credit programme during its first two weeks of operation, outpacing bank lending under other schemes for bigger firms.
The finance ministry offers banks a 100% credit guarantee on loans of up to 50,000 pounds under its Bounce Back Loan Scheme, after an 80% guarantee slowed lending under an earlier programme.
The BBLS has lent 14.18 billion pounds to nearly half a million small businesses as of May 17, up from 8.38 billion pounds by May 10.
By contrast an earlier programme that lends up to 5 million pounds, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, has only lent 7.25 billion pounds since its launch in March.
Banks have only approved around half of loan applications under CBILS so far, compared with 80% for the BBLS.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak initially opposed offering full state guarantees for bank lending, due partly to the risk of bad debts, but allowed it for the smallest firms after pressure from business groups, legislators and the Bank of England.
Some 8 million furloughed employees have 80% of their salaries covered under another government scheme, which has cost 11.1 billion pounds so far, while 2 million self-employed workers have applied for 6.1 billion pounds in one-off grants.
The BoE has bought 18.8 billion pounds of short-term debt from large, investment-grade companies but a finance ministry-backed scheme to encourage banks to lend to large businesses with lower credit quality has seen less take-up.
Only 590 million pounds has been lent so far under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan scheme. ($1 = 0.8175 pounds) (Reporting by David Milliken Editing by William Schomberg)