Small businesses in the capital need more support from banks during the coronavirus outbreak, according to the London Chamber of Commerce

The business organisation said London’s financial sector must show it is “serving the national cause” in the fight against Covid-19.

Businesses across the county have struggled as strict lockdown measures introduced last week made footfall evaporate.

Supply chains have also been hit hard by the virus, and many businesses have had large numbers of staff off sick or self-isolating.


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And despite the Government’s £330 billion business support package, many small companies have struggled to get Treasury-backed loans.

Of the 130,000 requests so far, less than 1,000 have been approved, Government statistics reveal.

Yesterday (Thursday), Chancellor Rishi Sunak overhauled his bailout plans to streamline the process.

Mr Sunak banned banks from demanding small business owners offer personal savings as collateral for loans.


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And he opened up Government-backed lending to larger companies with annual revenues of up to £45 million.

The vast majority of UK businesses have seen revenue drop as coronavirus restrictions begin to bite, a British Chamber of Commerce study confirmed yesterday.

Almost two thirds of small and medium businesses have just three months of cash left – and nearly one in five are down to their last month of reserves.

A third plan to temporarily lay off at least three quarters of workers within the next week.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, said the Square Mile must now play its part and back business in the capital.

He said: “The government money simply isn’t flowing fast enough down the chain.

“Banks must demonstrate that they are serving the national cause – and those organisations who represent London’s financial institutions must call them out for not doing enough.”

Mr Burge said the City of London Corporation – the local authority responsible for the Square Mile, the capital’s finance district – should take a public stance on the problem.

Responding, City of London policy chairman Catherine McGuinness said the corporation “fully recognises” the “exceptionally challenging times for businesses across the capital”.

She said: “The financial sector knows that it needs to support businesses across the UK in their hour of need and is already acting in partnership with the Government and regulators.”

Ms McGuinness said City of London officials are in “constant contact” with banks.

She added: “This is a crisis which will require the whole of our capital, and indeed the whole of our country, to work together.

“The fundamental strengths of London will help us to recover and rebuild, as we have done before.”

The Government has now (March 23) ordered everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary to fight the spread of coronavirus. You can find the latest guidance here. Advice on the virus from Public Health England is available here.