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Struggling UK companies have now received more than £100bn worth of support from banks and the government through various coronavirus stimulus schemes, official figures have shown.

UK banks have lent out more than £58bn to hard-hit companies through the government-backed coronavirus loan schemes, according to Treasury figures out today.

HMRC figures showed that companies have claimed £39.3bn from the government through the furlough scheme. The programme has supported almost 10m workers.

The figures come as the government prepares to extend the loan schemes so that companies can apply for cash until the end of November.

It is a sign that the government thinks businesses will need more support over the autumn as coronavirus cases rise and new restrictions are imposed.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to be “creative” in helping workers and firms, although so far has resisted pressure to extend the furlough scheme.

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Bounce back loans hit £38bn

The vast majority – £38bn – of the bank lending has come through the bounce back loan scheme, under which the government guarantees 100 per cent of loans to small businesses. Banks have made 1.26m loans through the scheme.

Banks have lent out £15.5bn through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the Treasury figures showed. It carries a government guarantee of 80 per cent. Just over £3.8bn had been lent through the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS).

The HMRC figures also showed that the government had spent £13.4bn supporting self-employed people.

August’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme saw Britons eat more than 100m discounted meals in August. The scheme, which provided 50 per cent of meals, cost the government £522m.

As of yet it is unclear how much of the bank lending will end up being the government’s problem.

City groups have flagged that companies could be overwhelmed by debt taken on during coronavirus, and have called for help.

Stephen Pegge, head of commercial finance at banking body UK Finance, said that “the banking and finance industry has a clear plan” to help companies get “through these tough times”.

Yet he warned that “it is important to remember that any lending provided under government-backed schemes is a debt not a grant”. He added: “Firms should carefully consider their ability to repay before completing an application.”

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM

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