‘How can you pay back a Bounce Back Loan when you haven’t bounced back?’
Angus Crawford of the BBC accurately captured our campaign message in reflecting many small business owners’ frustrations with their impending loan repayments.
It has been a very busy few weeks for our team challenging Bounce Back Loans. We have had media coverage from the BBC, Radio 4 You and Yours, The Guardian, The Mirror and many more, all of which you can find linked on our News panel at Back British Business . The Excluded Unity Alliance organised a rally where the CEO of Back British Business, Wasif Mahmood, gave a speech outside of Parliament. Our media presence has led to an influx of 15,000 people enquiring about our campaign through our website.
We also have the first of our regional Q&A forums coming up in Leicester on 20th January 2022 (December's event has been postponed). This will provide local business owners with the opportunity to ask us in person how we can help them and to discuss challenging their loan repayments.
Of particular significance to our legal challenge of Bounce Back Loans was the publication last week of the National Audit Office’s updated Report on Bounce Back Loans. The report revealed that 90% of loans were made to micro-businesses (businesses with a turnover of less than £632k).
The NAO report considerably strengthens our position in negotiating with banks to get loans written off. The NAO report reveals for the first time that the banks only have to make ‘reasonable efforts’ to recover loans from businesses before they can claim the full amount of the loans back from the Government under the Government guarantee.
The banks can revert to the Government under their guarantee after trying and failing to reclaim the money ‘within a reasonable time period’ where they believe ‘no further payment is likely’. The suggestion is that after 12 months of trying to recover the Loans the banks should give up. However, they do not even have to wait the full 12 months as they can claim on the Government guarantee at any time. The Government has already paid £19million under its guarantee to the banks. This re-affirms our stance in rightfully challenging these loans, but also reveals that many banks have appreciated the commercial viability in seeking repayment from the Government rather than small businesses.
In other words, fight your loan repayments with our help and there is a strong chance the banks will take the easy road of claiming on the Government guarantee. That will mean the write off of our clients’ loans in many cases.
Whilst our case is clear and some banks may co-operate, we have had responses from Barclays and Santander where there has been less of a willingness to progress matters in a timely manner. This delaying tactic has been made under the guise of a need of a letter of authority from our clients permitting us to act on their behalf. As Barclays and Santander well know, as a registered law firm we do not require a letter of authority to act on behalf of our clients. We have demanded that the banks stop putting up these feeble excuses when we are pursuing a response to defend people’s livelihoods, and that if they continue to do so we will consider it harassment and breach of protocol. The gloves are off and so we shall see how each of the banks decides to address our challenges to these loans in the coming weeks.
Your questions answered
Every week we will look at an issue or concern that has been raised and provide answers for you.
“Do you do any work beyond negotiating?”
Our essential work is to complain to the banks and the Financial Ombudsman about the unfairness of your loan and deploying carefully constructed legal arguments that they are not enforceable. If the banks take legal action against you then we will review the merits of your case before advising you on the further steps that we can take to support and defend your position.
All our actions are driven towards putting up a fight with the banks over the repayment of your loan so that they will either negotiate with us or give up and claim on the Government guarantee instead.
If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with us, you can find out how to contact us here.