The UK Government’s loan schemes for SMEs during the coronavirus pandemic have been vital during our “collective survival mode”, but we now need “to shift our focus to a long-term solution so that businesses can once again thrive,” said Ed Rimmer, CEO of Time Finance

The British Business Bank recently published data on its Covid relief programmes that saw £79.3bn in government-backed loans distributed to 1.67 million businesses across the UK.

The BBB reported:

  • 1,560,309 Bounce Back Loans (BBLS) worth £47.36bn 
  • 106,660 BBLS top-ups approved worth £950m
  • 109,877 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans worth £26.39bn
  • 753 Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) loans worth £5.56bn

Rimmer, who was confirmed as CEO of Time Finance in June, said: “The £79bn funnelled by banks to UK businesses has undoubtedly done its job but businesses need to turn to more sustainable solutions.

“Recent data from Time Finance’s quarterly survey demonstrated that two-thirds of businesses have an optimistic outlook for the future, aligning to the Bank of England’s growth forecast for 2021, which increased from 5% to 7.25% in May,” he said. 

Rimmer was referring to a survey of Time Finance customers conducted in April 2021.

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He added: “We have navigated some undeniably challenging times and the Government’s pandemic support propped many businesses up through these troubles. But the tide is turning and if we don’t shift our focus away from the short-term, we risk losing momentum in our economic recovery.

“As the recovery starts in earnest, many sectors are busier and an increase in productivity is obviously promising, but it is also creating somewhat of a bottleneck. That’s the challenge of a V-shaped recovery. We all hope for a rapid recovery for the economy but it’s only possible if businesses can keep up the pace.

“We are seeing some changes in business behaviours at Time Finance. Our clients are exploring their investment options with us and for me this is a significant indicator of business confidence. 

“Whether it’s through asset finance to fund equipment and technology, invoice finance to release capital from unpaid invoices, or a combination of both through asset-based lending, growth is very much on the agenda and that’s really encouraging. Our economy relies on it.

“The short-term solutions have and continue to serve their purpose. Time Finance was very proud to have been accredited to deliver the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and have recently been accredited as a Recovery Loan Scheme lender. 

“The emphasis with funding has been very much on the pandemic’s disruption to businesses; we have been dealing with the here and now. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are for the first time in a long time faced with an opportunity. We can finally look more optimistically to the future,” he said.