A Managing Partner of Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP (AAB), one of the UK’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and business advisors, has urged more businesses to apply for the government COVID-19 loan schemes with the aim of positioning themselves strongly for the ‘next normal’.
Lyn Calder, who is also the firm’s Head of Deals for the Central Belt, said that business owners must plan for their longer-term future, and consider how they will plug the funding gap when we emerge from lockdown and demand for their products and services begins to ramp up again.
Ms Calder also commented on the recently published survey carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which revealed that uptake of the Treasury’s unprecedented financial support packages via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the micro-loans scheme, has been relatively low, with 57% of those surveyed not intending to apply for any financial support.
Ms Calder said: “There are a variety of reasons for businesses not taking up these support measures, from worry about taking on debt during this period of economic challenge, to a perception that these loans only apply to those urgently needing cash to see them through the crisis. Others are thinking that if they can get through the lockdown they’ll be ok, but the restart needs to be funded too.
“My colleagues and I at AAB are concerned that many businesses have not considered how they will pay staff salaries and cover raw material costs once trade starts to pick up again. Given that the furlough scheme will not last indefinitely, and that businesses won’t have the luxury of funding product build from their debtor book, I would advise business owners to consider applying for one of the Covid-19 debt schemes as part of their contingency planning for when they re-start their operations. It would be a prudent step to future-proof any business at the moment.”
With just 13% of all firms attempting to access CBILS having been successful to date, according to the BCC survey, Ms Calder added that time is of the essence in businesses accessing this cash. “The survey also reveals that 48% of those who have applied are waiting for a response, and this only emphasises the need to get the funding application in quickly. If business owners wait until they are almost running out of cash, they could be at the back of a long queue. Making the application doesn’t cost a company anything. Our advice is to start the process now and if you decide you don’t need the money then you can say thanks but no thanks before drawdown.
At the beginning of May, the Chancellor announced a further loan scheme aimed at supporting the smallest businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Bounce Back Loans scheme will offer businesses 100% government backed loans of up to £50,000 via a new fast-track finance scheme. Ms Calder commented: “As with the CBILS scheme, we would advise that small businesses consider how this financial support could help them to get back up-and-running in the re-start phase, even if they have sufficient cash-flow to survive the immediate crisis.” It’s important to remember that a business can’t access both the Bounce Back Loan scheme and CBILS. If the funding requirement could be more than £50,000 then it could be the wrong move to take the quick payment and rule out the larger fund.