Coronavirus

Two thirds of SME leaders expect to never repay Covid support

Of SMEs who received a loan, it said nearly two thirds (64%) have started making repayments, 44% through their own revenue, and 21% through a loan from another source

Two thirds (66%) of SME leaders who received financial support from the Government’s Covid loan schemes believe it’s likely their business will default on the loan, according to new research from Nucleus Commercial Finance.

Nucleus said this equates to 2.3 million SMEs who anticipate never repaying their loan and added that the anticipated default rate increases to 75% for small businesses with 10-50 employees.

The number of defaults anticipated by SMEs is “significantly higher” than estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility which suggest that up to 40% of BBLS borrowers may default.

Nucleus added that with over half (51%) of SMEs receiving financial support through the loan schemes such as CBILS, BBLS and RLS, the Government could be facing a “significant shortfall”, with 10% of SME leaders who received a government loan saying they would find it “extremely difficult” to repay their loan.

Of SMEs who received a loan, it said nearly two thirds (64%) have started making repayments, 44% through their own revenue, and 21% through a loan from another source. Over a third (34%) haven’t started repaying their loan. This is made up of 17% who have taken a repayment holiday, 9% who have defaulted on the loan before starting repayments, and 8% who haven’t started making repayments yet.

Sole traders were the most concerned (30%) about having to pay back the loan, compared to 17% for medium companies (50-250 employees), 4% for small companies (10-50 employees) and 6% for micro businesses (1-9 employees).

Chirag Shah, CEO, Nucleus Commercial Finance, said: “Government loans have been a vital lifeline at a time of crisis, helping SMEs to survive and start to recover from the impact of the pandemic. However, based on this insight, the government is going to be facing challenges if defaults reach these anticipated levels and businesses will require additional finance to help them get by.

“Rather than leaving SMEs, who underpin our economy, on the brink of survival, government and industry need to engage with them now to provide ongoing support and signpost them to the solutions available. It’s crucial that government and industry work together to support SMEs over time as they transition their finance from these loans to other sources of finance.”

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