Eagerly awaited £47bn BBLS lending data report not “definitive nor conclusive”



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The lending report to be published by the British Business Bank will include the caveat that it “should not be regarded as definitive nor conclusive as to the performance of the schemes”.

Eagerly awaited £47bn BBLS lending data report not

Image source: Starling CEO Anne Boden/ Starling

An eagerly awaited delayed publication on lender performance under the government’s £47bn Covid Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), which several fintechs lent under, might only provide limited and inconclusive data, it has been reported.

The disclosure that only partial lender-by-lender data will be published by the state-backed British Business Bank (BBB) was disclosed by The Times.

The Times has also reported that as of June one in four bounce back loans issued by Starling Bank are in arrears, compared with a scheme average of one in eight.

The publication of the data follows a report by the newspaper revealing how the scheme had been exploited by loan recipients, which used the funding to illegally finance gambling sprees, home improvements, luxury cars and watches. 

It also follows the government’s counter-fraud minister Lord Agnew launching an attack on Starling Bank, claiming it was “one of the worst” performers in distributing government-backed loans, unless he sees data that proves him wrong.

Agnew hit out at Starling for claimed anti-fraud failures in lending money under the scheme, an accusation strongly denied by Starling and its CEO Anne Boden.

Included in the lender-by-lender data published by the BBB will be a caveat that it “should not be regarded as definitive nor conclusive as to the performance of the schemes”.

The lender performance data is also said to highlight that lenders are at different stages of the recovery process; that banks may have adhered to scheme rules but still experienced higher loss rates than peers; and that the scale of claims on the taxpayer guarantee does not necessarily indicate “the amount of fraud in a lender’s portfolio”.

Staring, Tide and Funding Circle were fintechs accredited under the BBLS scheme.

According to the Times, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the cabinet office minister, is pushing for a much more comprehensive data set to be released, which could ignite a political row over the issue.

A spokeswoman for Starling, said: “We don’t know how or what the other banks are reporting, so it’s very difficult to make direct comparisons.”

A spokeswoman for the BBB: “Given the size of the schemes, the numbers of loans, and the speed at which they were offered and drawn down, data collection remains fluid and subject to refining and correction.”

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