Fears grow over UK firms’ ability to repay Covid business loans

National Audit Office warns of £26bn taxpayer loss on bounce-back loan scheme

Taxpayers stand to lose up to £26bn on the government’s most popular Covid-19 business loan scheme because of fraud or an inability to repay the money, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has warned.

The concerns were raised in a National Audit Office (NAO) report into the 100% government-backed bounce-back loan scheme (BBLS), which was designed to quickly distribute cheap loans of up to £50,000 to small businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

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