The UK Treasury is extending its emergency business loan scheme and will allow firms to “top up” their borrowing as part of new rules meant to keep businesses afloat during England’s second lockdown.

UK firms will now have until the end of January to apply for emergency business loans, including bounce back loans (BBLS), coronavirus business interruption loans (CBILS) and the CLBILS scheme for larger firms. That is two months longer than the original 30 November deadline. The extension also applies to the Future Fund, which is aimed at UK start-ups.

Small businesses that already received funds through the 100% government-backed BBLS programme – which offers firms cheap loans worth up to £50,000 – will also be able to top up existing loans if they need additional cash.

The top-up is meant to help firms that borrowed less than the maximum sum available – up to 25% of their turnover to a limit of £50,000 – to avoid taking on extra debt. However, most firms made those calculations before the second lockdown in England was announced.

A government document outlining the changes said: “We understand that some businesses didn’t anticipate the disruption to their business from the pandemic would go on for this long; this will ensure that they are able to benefit from the loan scheme as intended.”

Firms will be able to request a top-up from next week but will only be able to do so once. The bounce back loan scheme has so far distributed £40.2bn to 1.3m UK businesses.

If you have any questions regarding these business loan schemes, please contact your usual Partner or Manager who will be happy to help.