On Thursday the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) complained of a “nightmarish” experience for business owners that have already tried to seek help from lenders.
The finance ministry said it will ban lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under 250,000 pounds — one of the FSB’s demands — and will make operational changes to accelerate approvals.
Banks have now been banned from requesting personal guarantees – which allow them to take a director’s property if they cannot pay funds back – on loans under £250,000. Most high street lenders have already promised to do this following a backlash but the government will now force all of them to act.
The government has also removed a requirement for businesses to demonstrate that they have no other means of accessing funding in an attempt to widen the scheme.
There have now been more than 130,000 enquiries from companies for the loans, according to new data from UK Finance.
But only 983 businesses have had their finance approved, with around £90 million of loans.
Companies trying to apply for the loans said banks had been demanding the guarantees and charging double-digit interest rates after the first interest-free 12 months.
The Treasury said all viable small businesses affected by coronavirus will now be eligible for the scheme and they will not have to offer any proof they have looked elsewhere first.
Mr Sunak also offered a lifeline for mid-cap businesses.
About 5,000 companies had been previously been too big for the loan scheme – which is capped at firms with turnover of £45m – and too small for Covid Corporate Financing Facility, which helps multinational companies.
A new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme which will provide a government guarantee of 80pc for loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m.