Understanding the Dynamics of UK Covid-19 SME Financing

Raffaella Calabrese, Marc Cowling, Weixi Liu

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The scale of the UK government's response to the Covid-19 crisis after the first lockdown in March 2020 was unprecedented. For the business sector, two financing schemes were particularly relevant: the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). Both were designed to support the capitalization of businesses through this difficult trading period. In this paper, we use data covering the first two quarters of the Covid-19 crisis to explore the dynamics of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) financing and in particular the role of government support schemes. Our findings show that 92.1% of all debt funds provided in this period were backed by the UK government, which compares to less than 5% under normal circumstances. We find that the demand, supply and government share of SME lending increased from Covid-19 quarter 1 (April–June 2020) to quarter 2 (July–September 2020), that micro and small businesses had the highest demand for loans, and that better-performing firms were more likely to receive loans. Further, in a world where more loan requests than ever were granted, the government share of this pool of loans had a different risk profile than the small pool of non-government-backed loans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-677
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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