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Finance in the Spotlight - How to package a CBILS application for success?

Philip Hargreaves, GC Business Growth Hub’s Access to Finance Lead, unpacks the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme highlighting key considerations for a successful application.

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This page was last updated on 17 December 2020.

*The government has extended the deadline for new applications to 31 March 2021*


In our last blog we considered the differences between the two key loan schemes available to small businesses, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). This time, we will delve deeper and focus specifically on CBILS which requires a more detailed application.

The key to a successful CBILS application is ensuring both the clarity of your request to the selected lender and the complete provision of detailed information that is required by the lender.


What will funders require from CBILS applicants?

CBILs is a commercial loans process and as such lenders will perform the usual diligence checks as they would for any other credit arrangement. In simple terms lenders will be looking at the following:

  • Was the business viable before COVID-19 e.g. not a business operating in ‘financial difficulty’
  • The business must be able to demonstrate the adverse impact of Coronavirus and the potential to return to pre COVID-19 trading activity through reporting and business planning
  • It will also be necessary to provide a detailed account of management actions already taken to preserve cash within the business
  • Applicants must have a clear idea of the amount and term of the borrowing required and provide specific information about how the funds will be utilised.

Prior to submitting your application, review our checklist to ensure that your application pack has the best chance of being approved.



What documents are required?

1. Written Supporting Document

A common misstep in the application process is a business providing inadequate information to support the CBILS application. Businesses should ensure they utilise the appropriate checklists available through the British Business Bank, and the accredited lender websites.

As part of the supporting documents required, lenders may also ask for a brief business plan to be provided which could include:

  • A brief summary of your business
  • Management information (background, structure, skills and others)
  • Business trading position before COVID-19
  • Business financial position before COVID-19
  • Impact of COVID-19 on business sales
  • Long term impact on the business post COVID-19
  • Liquidity challenges (linking to cash flow forecasts)

A business plan template which is free to download is available on the GC Business Finance website, here


2. Latest financial accounts – from the past 3 years, if available. The 2019 accounts will be required even if in draft form.


3. Management information – up to date monthly management information will be required.

There have been instances where information supporting applications has been insufficient, out of date or inconsistent with the forecasts that have been provided. Applicants must submit up-to-date management information (from 31/12/2019 as a minimum) including detailed supporting information on sales by customer, payroll etc.


4. Cash Flow forecast with assumptions narrative

The cash flow forecast must clearly demonstrate the need for funding and potential return to pre COVID-19 trading activity. It is critical for forecasts to reflect appropriate consideration of all alternative cash protection mechanisms available to the company such as HMRC Deferment in order to avoid overstating funding requirements and subsequently undermining the credibility of your supporting forecasts.

In your application, you should accompany your financial forecasts with a narrative outlining the assumptions that support the numbers. In the majority of cases, these will reflect a gradual return to pre COVID-19 income levels dependent upon specific business circumstances. To allow lenders to assess affordability and serviceability of the funding requested, applicants should ensure the cashflow projections included cover at least the period to 31/12/2020 with this being extended to 31/12/2021 for larger loans.


5. Up to date aged debtor/creditors listing


6. List of existing loan/finance agreements


7. List of company assets


8. If applying to a lender that isn’t your own bank - include CVs for all key personnel and three months business bank statements. A new lender will also need to make personal identification checks.

It is important to remember that even though this is a government backed loan scheme, businesses remain 100% liable for any default on future payments, which will have a direct impact on your ability to raise future credit.


Support Available

Navigating the current financial landscape and deciding which scheme is best for your business can be challenging. If you are based in Greater Manchester or Lancashire and need bespoke support, our Access to Finance team is here to offer free and impartial guidance.



More information is available on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Support website. To speak to the Access to Finance team call us on: 0161 237 4128 or email us at:

Coronavirus Finance Support

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Philip Hargreaves

Philip Hargreaves, Access to Finance Lead

Philip has worked in commercial and corporate banking for the past 40 years. He is now responsible for the Hub’s Access to Finance Team.

Working closely with partners in the business and professional communities, Philip and his team are passionate about supporting local SMEs who are looking to grow.

“Fundraising in the current marketplace is often complex, requiring time and specialist understanding of all the available options. Putting the right finance in place, at the right time, can mean the difference between success and failure.”



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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