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Just Over £1bn of Covid-19 Business Loans Issued, Plus Crawley in Danger

It has been revealed that around 20% of the British companies that have applied for the government’s emergency loans have been approved. Around £1.1bn has been paid out to date, but it is feared that the process may be moving too slowly to save some businesses.

The Numbers to Date

6,020 loans worth a total of £1.1bn have been reported as issued at the time of writing. This means that the number of loans provided under the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme has doubled in the space of a week.

The numbers came from UK Finance, which is a banking lobby group. They revealed that 28,460 formal applications for the government-backed loans have been made so far. Therefore, 21% of them have been approved to date.

The previous week had seen just 3,309 of these loans completed. The amount involved has increased even more dramatically. A rise of £700 million from the first week to a total of £1.1bn means that the loan amounts have grown by 150%.

These loans are interest-free for the first 12 months, as a key part of the Chancellor’s £330bn support package for British businesses during the ongoing health crisis. As well as the firms that have formally applied so far, it is also reported that over 300,000 businesses have asked about it on an informal basis.

The British Chambers of Commerce also released details of this scheme. 2% of the companies that responded to their survey had managed to access the loans in the last week. This was double the previous figure, but it was reported that not all lenders are responding to informal enquires on the subject. Other firms are turning to the debt collection process to survive this period.

Crawley Could Be the Worst-Hit Part of the UK

It is feared that UK coronavirus job losses could hit the Sussex town of Crawley particularly hard. This is because of the area’s reliance on the aviation industry, which has been badly affected by the crisis.

In fact, it is estimated that about 18% of the jobs here are in the aviation industry, with figures putting the number of jobs at risk as high as 53,000 out of the total of 94,000. Crawley is located close to Gatwick Airport and relies heavily on it for its economic well-being.

Because of this, the Centre for Cities think tank identified it in a report looking at the British places at the greatest risk of job losses during the current economic downturn. Their study points out that the coronavirus effect won’t be felt evenly across the whole country.

It is thought that over half of the jobs in Crawley could be either lost or furloughed in the near future. The study looked at 62 of Britain’s largest cities and towns, and the researchers discovered that Crawley has a higher percentage of aviation-related employment than anywhere else.

The 18% of the population employed in aviation here is far higher than the average of 1% seen in other UK cities and towns. It has also seen large numbers of self-employed workers recently, with many people turning to taxi-driving in particular.