Robert Peston

Rishi Sunak to give 100 per cent guarantees on business loans

Rishi Sunak to give 100 per cent guarantees on business loans
Rishi Sunak (photo: Getty)
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There's a confident expectation among those in government and banks that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will offer 100 per cent guarantees on emergency loans to small businesses.

But last week the chancellor stated categorically that the 80 per cent government guarantee for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) would not be changed (which the Prime Minister's official spokesman also confirmed last week).

The squaring of the circle, to be at least hinted at later today, is that the Treasury will launch a new loan scheme for smaller businesses, with 100 per cent government guarantees, rather than modifying the existing scheme.

The economic impact of this new scheme would be the same as modifying CBILS. Though the politics may be easier for Sunak.

I am told there has been a debate inside the Treasury whether the maximum size of loan in the new 100 per cent guaranteed scheme should be £25,000 or £50,000.

And what is also unclear is whether the Chancellor will find a device to exempt the loans from the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act, since it is this act that (in part) is making it so cumbersome for the banks to provide CBILS emergency loans to the smallest enterprises.

The relevant point is that Sunak has responded to the arguments from bankers and the Governor of the Bank of England, that the relatively slow delivery of emergency credit – just 16,000 CBILS loans in total at the last official count, compared with more than 170,000 equivalent government loans in France, and more than 100,000 in Switzerland – has something to do with the design of the scheme rather than (for once) the inefficiency or bloody mindedness of the banks.

Written byRobert Peston

Robert Peston is Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston. This post originally appeared on his ITV News blog

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