Business secretary calls on bailed out banks to repay favour to taxpayers

Ryan Fowler

April 1, 2020

Alok Sharma (pictured), the business secretary, has called on banks to make sure that support offered by the government to businesses is passed on to those in need. 

His call follows criticism of banks for insisting that business owners put their personal assets, such as property or savings, up as collateral for loans.

Sharma said it would be completely unacceptable if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to businesses in financial difficulty.

He said: “From today, businesses will start benefitting from £22bn in the form of business rates relief and grants of up to £25,000.

“As of today, local authorities have received more than £12bn. This afternoon, I instructed them that this money must reach businesses as quickly as possible.

“High street banks are working very hard to help through this period, including through mortgage holidays and increased credit facilities.

“Loans for businesses are also being issued through the Covid business disruption loan scheme. The Chancellor, together with the Bank of England and the FCA, wrote to the chief executives of UK banks to urge them to make sure the benefits of the loan scheme are passed through to businesses and consumers.

“It would be completely unacceptable if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to good businesses in financial difficulty.

“Just as the taxpayer stepped in to help the banks in 2008, we will do everything we can to help the banks repay that favour and support the businesses and people of the UK in their time of need.

Sharma added the Chancellor will be saying more on helping businesses access the support they need in the coming days.

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