The National Audit Office (NAO) has today published its investigation into the government’s COVID-19 emergency Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which is delivered by the British Business Bank.
The report highlights that the Bounce Back Loan scheme succeeded in quickly supporting smaller businesses across the UK to access emergency finance, with more than 1.2 million businesses accessing loans so far, worth £38bn.
BBB has welcomed the investigation’s conclusion that the distribution of loans across the UK is line with the overall distribution of businesses, and that around 90% of the loans have gone to micro-businesses (with turnover below £632,000), fulfilling one the scheme’s core aims. The report also highlights several areas to consider regarding the future operation of the Scheme, and any future such schemes.
Since launch the fraud risks within the Scheme have been mitigated by accredited lenders undertaking standard fraud checks as part of the Scheme’s application process and for new business customers the Scheme insists lenders apply their standard Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks. In addition, the Bank, the government, fraud prevention services, fraud bureaux and the banking and alternative finance sectors have acted swiftly post-Scheme launch to put in place additional measures, beyond the standard checks, to further mitigate fraud risks.
The Bank has also worked with lenders and HMG colleagues to implement BBLS successfully, including accrediting a range of lenders forming a diverse set of providers under the Scheme.
The British Business Bank acknowledges, as the report does, that ‘much hard work remains over the coming months and years to ensure that the risks to value for money are minimised’.
Delivering the Bounce Back Loan Scheme continues to be a priority for the Bank in providing emergency finance for smaller businesses during the current pandemic and benefiting the economy more widely. The scheme will close for applications on 30 November 2020.