Updated on November 10, 2020

The Business Interruption Loan Scheme gives businesses access to bank lending, overdrafts and other finance solutions to help them through the current crisis.

The scheme provides financial support across the UK to firms that are losing revenue, and seeing their cash flow disrupted. It is a part of a wider package of Government support for UK businesses and employees.

Support for SMEs includes invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.

Following approval by the British Business Bank on August 19, Western Union Business Solutions are also accredited to provide finance to smaller businesses with turnover of up to £45m and can start receiving applications from existing clients who meet eligibility requirements. They follow Simply, approved earlier this month, and takes the total to over 90 accredited lenders currently working to provide finance.

Deadline update: As of November 2, the Chancellor announced the Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will be extended until January 31, 2021.

Recent amendments in force from July

More small businesses will benefit from the scheme following changes to state aid rules. Previously, businesses which were classed as ‘undertakings in difficulty’ were unable to access CBILS because of EU rules, however, businesses in this category which have fewer than 50 employees and a turnover of less than £9m can apply to CBILS.

Undertakings in difficulty are usually businesses with high levels of debt and accumulated losses. The changes mean that many small businesses nationwide with strong growth prospects that are backed by private equity and venture capital will benefit.

How it works – and how smaller businesses can benefit

British Business Bank operates the Scheme via its accredited lenders. There are over 90 of these lenders currently working to provide finance, and they include high-street banks, challenger banks, asset-based lenders and smaller specialist local lenders.

A lender can provide up to £5 million in the form of invoice finance, asset finance term loans and overdrafts.

The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments.


Your business must be UK-based in its business activity, and have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million. If it is a sole enterprise it is the turnover of the applicant only, as shown in the latest set of accounts. For applicants acting as part of a group, that have partners or linked enterprises, the turnover assessment should take the latest turnover of the applicant, as shown in their accounts, together with the turnover of any linked enterprises, any partners of any linked enterprises, any enterprises linked to any of the applicant’s partners and any enterprise linked to the applicant’s linked companies.

Businesses must also have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the pandemic and believes will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty, and self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the pandemic.

Government lender guarantee

The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. This is subject to pre-lender cap on claims. The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

The scheme, backed by the Government-owned British Business Bank, will be delivered through commercial lenders.

Sole traders/freelancers

Sole traders/freelancers are eligible as long as their business activity is operated through a business account. CBILS is open to:

  • Sole traders
  • Freelancers
  • Bodies corporate
  • Limited partnerships
  • Limited liability partnerships
    • Any other legal entity carrying out business activity in the UK with:
      – An annual turnover up to £45 million, and
      – Business activity operating through a business account operating in any sector

The business must generate more than 50% of its turnover from trading activity.


If your business activity is primarily UK-based, the scheme could potentially be appropriate for you, however,  for early-stage businesses in their first two years of trading, the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme (loans from £500 to £25,000 at interest of 6% per annum) may be more suitable.

Support for larger firms

Larger companies will have support under the new Corporate Financing Facility, whereby the Bank of England will buy short term debt. It will allow firms to finance short-term liabilities along with the necessary support for those affected by a short-term funding squeeze and ease the supply of credit to all firms.

Non-financial companies that meet the criteria set out on the Bank of England’s website are eligible.

We Are Here to Help

If you would like to know more about the recent changes and how your business can benefit from the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, please contact us today. Our business growth experts are here to help you guide through these challenging times.