UK COVID lending to businesses tops 50 billion pounds

FILE PHOTO: Closing down, reductions and customer information about social distancing during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) posters, are seen in a retail shop window where the business has now ceased trading in London, Britain July 26, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

LONDON (Reuters) - Banks’ lending to businesses under a government-backed COVID-19 loan scheme has exceeded 50 billion pounds, while the cost of supporting furloughed workers has increased to 33.8 billion pounds, weekly finance ministry figures showed.

Lending across the government’s three main programmes for small, medium and large businesses rose to a total 50.69 billion pounds as of Aug. 2, up from 49.43 billion pounds the week before.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has supported 9.6 million jobs and is the costliest single government COVID relief measure, has risen to 33.8 billion pounds from 31.7 billion pounds a week earlier.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken