British Business Bank responds to National Audit Office Investigation into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme

Press release 07 October 2020

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 £38 billion.1 The Bank welcomes the 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 businesses2 (with turnover below £632,000), fulfilling one of 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’. We have been, and will remain committed to this work, liaising closely with government, lenders and other stakeholders.

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.

  • 1

    The NAO Report states £36.9bn based on data at 6 September 2020. The most recent published data from 22 September 2020 shows BBLS lending at £38bn.

  • 2

    NAO, Investigation into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, p.7