Whilst the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) scheme, which is worth £350bn, is welcome news for those businesses that might not be able to secure finance through their bank, the pressure placed on relationship managers to respond to customers’ applications is ratcheting up every day. If the bank doesn’t quickly put more resources into this part of the business then it’s only going to get worse. And the staff dealing with loan applications and customer enquiries are also having to cope with the fact that large numbers of their colleagues are also self-isolating. And we know that’s only going to get worse too.

The pressure on the commercial business is going to remain intense for a long period. The bank needs to set out a clear path through these operational challenges because if it continues there will be more staff off with stress-related illnesses than with COVID-19.

Some of the most recent comments from members are set out below:

“Working from 5am to 11pm has been normal for at least a week now”.

“I’m a Relationship Manager and I’ve got XX applications from customers wanting loan assistance to deal with and that’s on top of my ‘normal’ job. I can just about cope but not for long and many of my colleagues are in the same position”.

“Each application takes on average a day and a half complete without complications and then there is follow up work. Stress levels are so high, staff are fast becoming ill”.

“People are self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms and my colleagues are being asked to help out with their work. I can see this getting much worse over the next few weeks.”

“I feel for my customers, some of them are desperate, but we just cope with the number of applications and enquiries. We keep telling our line managers but nothing changes”.

“Something has to give and my fear is that it’s going to be the physical and mental health of the staff on the front line. The support from immediate managers is there but only in words, no action or assistance in the form of more staff or less work load”. 

There are a lot of concerns about the accessibility of CBIL with lots of newspaper reports claiming that many small and medium sized businesses are being denied funds. As of a few days ago, just 1,000 businesses, out of almost six million British SMEs, had been granted loans as a part of the £330bn coronavirus business interruption loan scheme. Some of those loans are still being processed but it’s still not hitting the mark. We’re told that the Chancellor will be addressing this issue again in the next few days. Alison Rose, talking about CBIL in the context of RBS, said that the banks are “not about to start writing blank cheques”.

We would like to know from members who are dealing with these applications about the problems with the scheme.

  • What changes would they like to see to make it easier for SME customers to access the scheme?
  • Should Lloyds be making any changes to its processes to make it easier for customers to get access to the funds?
  • What are the main reasons for customer applications for loan assistance being turned down?
  • Are Lloyds putting any obstacles in your way in agreeing loan applications?

We appreciate that members are under an enormous amount of pressure but any information you can provide us with about the operation of the CBIL scheme and work pressures in your part of the business would be useful in our ongoing discussions with MPs and Government Ministers.

Members with any specific questions can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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