Only 1 per cent of firms have been granted emergency loans to weather the coronavirus crisis

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MINISTERS were warned they have less than two weeks to help desperate firms as it emerged just one in 100 have got an emergency loan.

There was fury when the Business Secretary Alok Sharma admitted just 4,200 loans have been paid out to companies struggling to survive.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma caused outrage by admitting that only 4,200 loans have been paid out to companies struggling to survive during the coronavirus crisis

That is despite more than 300,000 applications for a cash bailout after the coronavirus crisis decimated their turnover.

Without loans, many businesses say they will be unable to afford staff wages by the end of this month.

The Business interruption loan scheme was launched four weeks ago by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

High street banks and the Government blamed each other for the failing.

Challenged on the woeful figures, Mr Sharma said: “Yes absolutely, more money needs to go out faster.

“Banks have assured me they are working at pace over the weekend.”

But British Chamber of Commerce director general Adam Marshall told HOAR: “Pay day for a lot of people is April 25. We have to see progress by then.

“Businesses are counting their survival on hours and days, not weeks and months.”

Mr Marshall added: “This is the time for action, not the time for finger pointing.

“Banks and governments have got to work together to get things right, because the fate of so many companies and people’s jobs rest on them succeeding.”

Britain’s loan failings stand in deliveries stand in stark contrast to other European countries.

In Switzerland, more than 70,000 loans have already been handed out with some seeing their applications turned around in as little as 18 hours.

Sources close to ministers claimed the bottleneck was in banks taking too long to train up their staff on the process for agreeing them, and setting unnecessary conditions.

But bank bosses claimed the government were deepening the logjam, as the state-owned British Business Bank has to sign off every loan too.

Mr Sunak was last week forced to step in and demand banks stop asking for personal guarantees on loans below £250,000.

 

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