The UK banking and finance sector has so far provided some £73 billion in finance to more than 1.6 million businesses through government-backed COVID lending schemes, according to figures from HM Treasury.

This totals around 27% of British businesses, with the vast majority of firms maintaining an existing relationship with at least one of the 29 lenders currently accredited to the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS), or the 118 lenders now accredited to CBILS.

Following a 29,500 boost in the last month, the BBLS has reached some 1.5 million loans in total, shoveling some £45.5 billion back into the hands of SMEs across the UK.

According to the Treasury, these totals include business which have opted to ‘top-up’ their loans to the full £50,000 or a maximum of 25% of their turnover if lower, available through the scheme.

Stephen Pegge (pictured below), managing director of commercial finance at UK Finance, explained: "The UK’s banking and finance industry has continued to provide unprecedented levels of support to help businesses through the pandemic and the newly outlined plans to ease lockdown restrictions mean many businesses are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Out of the £73 billion total revealed in these figures, some £22 billion of it was lent out through CBILS to 92,500 businesses.

Alongside this scheme, the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme has helped more than 700 larger firms access £5.3 billion in support.

Extending a warning, Pegge added: “However, as the pandemic continues to cause significant economic uncertainty, many individual businesses and some specific sectors are facing extended disruption and may find themselves in financial difficulty in 2021.

“With widespread restructuring and recovery situations expected, the finance sector and related professional services are focused on the provision of capacity and expertise to help support the turnaround of companies where possible, while ensuring the sympathetic treatment of those businesses which are no longer viable.”

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