5 ways to access CBILS funding

With nearly 50 lenders in the CBILS scheme, small business owners would be forgiven for thinking that they’re spoiled for choice. But as with many things about the current crisis, the reality is not that simple. In practice you may only be eligible for two or three or these at most – although this situation is hopefully improving soon as the British Business Bank is likely to expand the group of accredited lenders.

To help you focus your efforts, we’ve outlined the five different ways of accessing CBILS and the approach of different lenders, so you can explore what type of lender is most likely to provide funding to your business.

1. Going to your current bank

All banks are giving priority to their existing customers. However, they may not have options for you right now if you’re looking for less than £25,000. For example, the minimum lending amount from Barclays and Lloyds is £25,000 and from HSBC it’s £10,000 (£25,001 for sole traders).

The banks are in the process of reviewing the solutions – and we expect that some of the banks will announce lower limits shortly. We will be keeping track of these changes, and will be updating the eligibility criteria on our platform to reflect any changes, giving you real-time visibility of solutions that can be accessed.

In terms of lending criteria, we know that the basic approach to assessing applications is the same as usual, so if you’re a business with a good track record, you may be able to access funds. This means that banks are continuing to provide funding to businesses that would have been able to access funding prior to the crisis. But if your business was not eligible for bank finance before the crisis, it is not likely that your bank will be able to provide funding now.

For amounts above the set minimums and up to £250,000 your bank will not expect a personal guarantee.

Please note that the process will take longer than normal. Banks are dealing with a large increase in the number of applications and we’re hearing they’re taking some time to contact all customers. If you’re waiting for a response, you might want to use our eligibility checker to understand which bank may be able to help you.


2. Going to a new bank

If you’ve not been able to get funding from your bank or you are not banking with one of the large banks, some customers are asking us if it makes sense to go to another bank. Our view is that as large banks have similar lending criteria, if there is not a strong credit record, you are unlikely to be successful.

If you do decide to pursue this route, at present the only major banks offering CBILS loans to new customers are Barclays and RBS/NatWest. However, you may need to open a bank account with them first. We’re awaiting details from banks only recently accredited, such as Co-operative Bank and Starling, to see if they will be able to provide funding to new customers.


3. Approaching a local specialist

Every area of the UK has local lenders dedicated to helping build their local economy. Most are significantly smaller operations than banks and process only a few hundred applications a month. You can only apply with one of these lenders if you are based in their region. Depending on where your business is based you may not have one of these options available, or you may in fact have more than one. We will be sharing more insight on this in the days to come.

As part of Funding Xchange’s application journey, however, we can confirm whether you are eligible for these lenders and will surface relevant choices if available. A list of candidates by area are below:


  • North West – GC Business Finance
  • North East – Business Enterprise Fund
  • West Midlands – BCRS Business Loans
  • Midlands and West – Art Business Loan (if you are an existing customer)
  • South Midlands – First Enterprise, Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust
  • North Midlands & Yorkshire – Finance for Enterprise
  • Merseyside – Merseyside Special Investment Fund
  • South West – SWIG Finance
  • South and South East – Let’s Do Business Group
  • Scotland – DSL Business Finance
  • Northern Ireland – Danske Bank, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland

UKSE also fund businesses across the UK that are located close to businesses in the steel industry.


4. Exploring specialist lenders

A number of specialist lenders are also accredited that may be an option for your business. These typically deal with secured finance such as asset finance or invoice finance, as well as helping businesses in specific sectors such as engineering. We will publish a separate post on these in the coming days. Examples of these lenders include:

Asset Finance

  • Aldermore
  • Genesis Asset Finance
  • Arkle Asset Finance
  • Haydock Asset Finance
  • Compass Business Finance
  • Hitachi
  • Country Finance Group
  • Close Brothers

Invoice Finance

  • Hitachi
  • Calverton Finance
  • Skipton Building Society


5. Applying to the new, fast digital lenders

In recent years, new entrants to the market such as Funding Circle have won a large share for the business lending market. These lenders are in the process of being accredited and expect to have CBILS solutions available shortly (at the time of writing, we expect from week commencing 20th April).

As fully digital operations, typically their application processes are quicker and they are able to make their lending decisions in hours. So, if speed is important, you could certainly consider these lenders.

Many of them are already integrated into the Funding Xchange platform, and we will be giving customers access to all of them via a single application in the coming days.


What’s my next step?

Funding Xchange enables you to make a single application and compare relevant offers from over 50 lenders, both CBILS and non-CBILS. Check your eligibility here.

If you’ve already applied through Funding Xchange and would like to discuss the offers you have received, please call our customer team on 020 3695 9206.

If you have applied but would like to understand if new options have become available, it makes sense to check back as we are updating available solutions and adding new lenders as they become available. Even if your business is not eligible for CBILS solutions, we can identify other lending options and provide signposts to relevant non-debt options, like grants and other government support.