FMB says builders still in dark over bailout loans

2 April 2020

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is asking the Chancellor to address delays with the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), as small builders across the country are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.

An FMB survey of members found that half of those who have applied for the CBILS found the process either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very difficult’ and 10% were rejected outright with the vast majority (84%) still waiting for a decision.

More worryingly 29% of SME house builders believe they are not able to apply for a loan through the scheme so have not applied while others are being asked for a personal guarantee on application or being forced to take out an overdraft with high interest.

“While we understand the immense pressure banks are under at the moment, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme needs to be fast-tracked and the criteria clarified as soon as possible to stop small construction firms going to the wall,” said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.

 “I am hearing time and time again about members who have been told by their bank that they will get back to them and never do, and others who have had to wait for hours on the phone to speak to their bank manager. Others have been told by their lender that they must apply by post. It is no wonder that members are reporting they are finding the process difficult. Sadly, we are still hearing of members who are being asking for a personal guarantee or being forced to take out an overdraft with high interest."

 “There also seems to be some confusion as to who is covered by the scheme. SME house builders are crying out for financial support, but many are being turned away by lenders. The Government should work with Homes England and the devolved administrations to help find a way to keep SME house builders afloat in this time, ensuring that they are ready to resume building high quality homes after the coronavirus outbreak.”