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Finance in the Spotlight: CBILs vs BBLs

Access to Finance Lead, Philip Hargreaves, overviews the Government backed COVID-19 loan schemes to help businesses obtain the right credit for them.

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This page was last updated on 8 February 2021.

*The application deadline for both schemes has been extended to 31 March 2021*


As we move through the Coronavirus pandemic, one of the key issues that businesses continue to face is maintaining cash flow to keep operating. Whilst the Government has introduced a range of support mechanisms to aid business continuity, the case for many businesses is the need for a substantial and fast injection of cash into the business.  I’ll be unlocking the COVID-19 Government loan schemes, summarising the key information that you need in order to make the right decision when it comes to borrowing.

What loans have been introduced by the Government?

To support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) back in March, providing businesses with access to loans and other types of finance of up to £5 million. Fast forward to April, the industry saw the launch of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), a new scheme which would run alongside CBILS and would focus on micro SME businesses requiring fast-track smaller loans to keep operating during the pandemic.



Looking at the two schemes side by side, there are key differences which must be considered.

Aside from the total value, one of the biggest differences is the application process. Whereas CBILS requires businesses to provide a full suite of financial data (management accounts, business plan, historic accounts, details of business assets) to support their borrowing proposal, BBLS can be accessed on a self-certification basis simply by completing a questionnaire, with no requirement to provide much financial data. What this means is that businesses can use BBLS to quickly access finance in a matter of days.





Target Audience

SMEs with a turnover of less than £45m

Low level early stage micro businesses and SMEs (no specific turnover criteria)

Type of finance

• term loans

• overdrafts

• invoice finance

• asset finance

• Term loans only

Finance provided

• Maximum value of facility - £5m

• Minimum for term loans and overdrafts is £50,001.

• Lenders delivering asset or invoice finance only will be able to provide finance at less than £50,001.


• Maximum value of facility - £50k

• Businesses can apply for between £2,000 up to 25% of their turnover



Over 40 accredited lenders including our sister company GC Business Finance

Over 20 accredited lenders including our sister company GC Business Finance

Interest rate and fees set by lender

Interest rate and fees set by lenders and will vary per lender

Government set interest rate at 2.5% per annum. No lender levied fees


• Based in the UK

• Annual turnover of less than £45m

• Have a borrowing proposal which would be deemed viable if it not were for coronavirus and which shows that your business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic

*See here for full criteria

• Based in the UK

• Established before 1 March

• Negatively impacted by coronavirus

*See here for full criteria

Application process

• Businesses will need to provide lenders with a borrowing proposal with several supporting financial documents


• Businesses will fill in a short online application form and self-declare that they are eligible for the Scheme.

• Eligible businesses will be subject to standard customer fraud, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks

Scheme duration

Until 31 March 20201 

Until 31 March 20201 


Is it possible to mix and match? 

Applying for both schemes is not feasible. However, if a business has a CBILS facility it can apply for a Bounce Back Loan Scheme facility, if the Bounce Back Loan Scheme facility will refinance the CBILS facility in full. All accredited lenders who have approved CBILS loans so far will allow customers to refinance their loan into the Bounce Back Loan Scheme where appropriate, however, borrower protections under these schemes differ, and businesses should discuss these with their lender.


Try, try, try again…

It is really important that businesses are aware that if their application for either of the loans is declined by a provider, this does not mean all providers will refuse you. For both schemes there is a baseline of eligibility, but each lender may require additional criteria to be met in order to offer you finance. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the decision lies with the provider, and if one turns you down, you are still able to approach others within the scheme.


In summary:

  • CBILS offers access to larger loans, but this comes with a more complex and time-consuming process, whereas BBLS offers fast-tracked smaller scale finance;
  • Companies can not access both schemes, but can apply for a BBLS facility to refinance a CBILS facility if the BBLS facility will refinance the CBILS facility in full;
  • In both schemes, being rejected by one lender doesn’t mean you won’t be able to access the scheme via another.



If you need further support in accessing finance in order to keep trading, the Access to Finance team is here to provide free, impartial support for you.  Get in touch on: 0161 237 4128 or email us at:

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The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.

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