LONDON - Nearly a fifth of small British businesses could be forced to close in the next four weeks after running out of cash amid complaints banks are refusing to give them government-backed coronavirus loans.
Many bosses said banks had declined them emergency payments over claims they had not met the required criteria while others could not get through on the phone or were told the money would take weeks to arrive.
Mark Fuller, who owns popular celebrity haunt Karma Sanctum in Soho, said he was unable to apply for funds because he could not guarantee his businesses would be able to start paying it back after six months in the event of a lengthy shutdown.
'The loan is under normal business conditions, which is fine but then don't suggest otherwise,' he told MailOnline. 'I have already been told by the government and Barclays that the only way to receive a loan is by cutting my staff.'
Other bosses were declined payments for having significant cash reserves, despite fears these would not be enough to last out a lengthy lockdown, or because they owned properties that could be used as collateral for a regular commercial loan.
Research published today by the BBC suggests that between 800,000 and a million businesses could be forced to shut their doors because they can no longer cover rent, salaries or payments to suppliers.(FA)