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UK COVID loans and financing schemes reach nearly 180 billion pounds – ministry

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said a total of 179.1 billion pounds ($245.8 billion) of support had been provided via emergency state-backed lending programmes, helping roughly a quarter of companies in the country cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

The availability of funds from the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, run by the Bank of England, peaked at 104 billion pounds and the total so far issued stood at about 38 billion pounds, the ministry said.

More than 46.5 billion pounds was issued under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small firms.

The BBLS and the government’s other emergency credit schemes close this month to new applications.

A new Recovery Loan Scheme, which is expected to charge higher rates of interest, is due to launch on April 6 and will run until the end of the year.

Britain’s National Audit Office warned last year that the BBLS scheme could saddle the government with losses of between 15 and 26 billion pounds from fraud and default. Financial research firm Equifax has estimated the potential losses will be lower, The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

($1 = 0.7288 pounds)

(Writing by William Schomberg; editing by William James and Andy Bruce)

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