My Fireside Chat with Paul Scully Minister for Small Business

I spent Friday mainly travelling, as a window of opportunity had come my way in which I could, at the very least, spend a minute or two with Paul Scully. So I was up and on my way to London at 4am.

In the end I spent much longer chatting to Paul, much longer, who, whilst probably worried about what I wanted, agreed to chat to me. So we sat down along with one of his team who took notes.

This rather impromptu Fireside Chat I had with him was not filmed, for reference the next filmed one will be with the British Business Bank in a couple of weeks, so please do look out for it.

However, I know he wont mind me giving you all an overview of what we discussed.

Yanking of the Government Guarantee

Firstly I expressed concern about those who may currently have a Bounce Back Loan on which some of the lenders have either had their Government Guarantee pulled on them or have asked for the Guarantees to be pulled.

There are two reasons the Guarantee will no longer be in place as I see it, the first is if the British Business Bank have uncovered something with those loans that for want of a better word “alarms” them or the lenders have realised that they have made an error in issuing them.

As for the type of errors, well that could be mistakes in the signed agreements, facility letters or even issuing BBLs before the customer signed them (saw that a few times when the scheme launched).

I raised concern that those who do have such a BBL, need to be told the status of their BBL, i.e. will the bank now be forced to write them off due to those errors. Either way the BBL recipients need to know and not be left in limbo.

At the last count, having heard it from the British Business Bank in a Committee Meeting, some £240m in BBLs no longer have a Guarantee attached, you do the maths as for how many BBLs that is.

Paul is now aware or those worries, however this will be a topic I will discuss with the British Business Bank, and for the record I believe 28 of the BBL lenders will have a couple of representatives at that next Fireside Chat, so we will get an insight into things from both sides of the fence so to speak.

Credit Ratings

When anyone misses one or more repayments or even goes into a default, I have been told by HM Treasury that those missed payments and defaults will be reported to credit reference agencies, and I quote:

“Like any commercial credit agreement, Bounce Back Loans will be recorded on a borrower’s business credit file. Where a borrower goes into default, this will be reported to credit rating agencies and may impact a borrower’s ability to access credit in the future.”

I have asked Paul for official clarification of whether a Sole Trader will see it on their personal credit file or not, as I am being told by some that is not the case, and I want it to come from the horse’s mouth so to speak rather than so called “experts”, if you get me.

I trust he will get back to me on that soon.

Naming of BBL Recipients

As you may know, currently the British Business Bank are battling away at keeping the names of everyone with a Bounce Back Loan secret, however there is a legal challenge to get everyone named.

I am leaving it to the British Business Bank to tell me in their own words the sane and logical reason they are defending your right to privacy, so hopefully anyone who is worried will realise they are most certainly on your side in that regards.

New “Recovery Loan” Scheme

I chatted to him briefly about the new version of the Recovery Loan Scheme, which is set to launch, he assures me it will live soon, however, and these are my words not his, don’t hold your breath on it being in any way shape or form like the BBL scheme.

“Suspected BBL Fraud”

We did chat about the topic of “Suspected BBL Fraud”, you will hear that phrase a lot moving forward, for it is the courts who ultimately decide if fraud has been committed or not, so just keep that in mind, as if BBLs do get written off due to “suspected BBL fraud” it doesn’t mean it was fraud, unless a court decides such.

“Over-Egging Turnover”

I mentioned the somewhat touchy subject of over-egging turnover, there is enough confusion over that currently as the Insolvency Service are taking one view, whilst the lenders are taking another view, often their own unique view.

Suffice to say we discussed it.

Other Topics

I did make it clear to Paul that many people, some of you reading this, are in a dark place regarding not being able to repay your BBL, not everyone of course, as many people have Bounced Back.

That is a topic I will be discussing with the British Business Bank and the representatives of the BBL lenders in my upcoming video.

He isn’t daft and he knows, some will have no option but to default, but I wanted him to know behind each defaulted (not outrageously scammed) BBL there is a real person, and he knows that.

We did chat about some other things regarding BBLs but that is between me and him at the minute and for him to get back to me on.

The upshot of this Fireside Chat is that I now have direct contact with him, and his wider team, so anything I spot that needs to be looked into from a borrower’s point of view and anything that is worrying you, will be brought to the attention of those in power.

Whether they choose to act, well, we will see on that.

As I know Paul and his team at BEIS and other interested parties will be all over this article, I would like to thank you for taking the time to spend so much time with me on Friday, and whilst I may take the piss on Twitter, just remember that is my personality, but behind every single BBL is a real person, and many of them need to be assured, if they are struggling to Bounce Back, you have their backs.

That will ultimately be the legacy of the BBL scheme.

Oh, and Rishi, fancy a Fireside Chat one day soon? I don’t bite.

Thanks, as always, to my website subscribers and the people who have ever so kindly donated via the FundRazr link, you paid for my travel to London and back and allowed the above to take place, and your generosity helps me spend so much time on this cause.

On a lighter note, the most commonly used phrase I have been receiving via DM about this Fireside Chat is, and excuse the French:

Fuck me I never thought I’d see this”