The initiative, announced on 6 April by trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers, will enable tourist and retail businesses suffering from cash-flow problems to apply for loans of up to £250,000 from the small firms loan and guarantee scheme. These sectors were not previously eligible for the loan.
‘It is important that businesses receive this help as quickly as possible’ said Byers, ‘and I am pleased to say the banks have agreed to treat with urgency all applications for loans from businesses affected by foot and mouth disease.’
The time required for the repayment of loans has been increased by one year from ten to 11 years, and from two to three years in the case of capital repayment. The changes increase the number of loans which the guarantee scheme can underwrite by £120m.
‘There are no quick fixes, but we must and we will do all we can to alleviate some of the problems that businesses across the country are facing now,’ concluded Byers.
Meanwhile, prime minister Tony Blair today attempted to help rural businesses by saying the perception that the country side is closed is wrong.
He told the BBC that the most important message to get across was that Britain is open for business.
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