Bounce Back Loan MSE Survey results:

  • HSBC, Starling and Tide worst service
  • New customers and sole traders struggle to successfully apply
  • One in five face delays of over a month

The bounce-back loan scheme was launched to help small businesses access funding quickly and easily during the coronavirus pandemic, but substantial numbers of applicants have suffered delays, rejections and credit checks, a (MSE) survey of 5,580 applicants has found. While not a statistically representative poll of applicants, it provides a revealing insight into the way that bounce back loans are working.

Running from 19 to 26 June, the survey found that Lloyds, Bank of Scotland and RBS triumphed when it came to customer satisfaction, receiving net positive scores of 81%, 65% and 50%. While four of the 14 banks were net negative, HSBC (-45%), Barclays (-1) and challengers Starling (-1%) and Tide (-90%).

Nearly one in four sole traders saw their application turned down compared to just 7% of limited directors. New customers also struggled, with just 47% of applications accepted, compared to 89% for existing customers.

Bounce back loans were originally discussed as being delivered in days, but the results revealed that many applicants experienced delays, with 23% having to wait (or still waiting) more than a month to hear back. More than two-fifths of HSBC’s rejected applicants (42%) had to wait over a month, whilst 97% of applications for Tide are still waiting on a decision.

Although credit ratings were not meant to impact eligibility, around a quarter of those rejected cited a failed credit check.

MSE will now be sending these findings in a report to the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Treasury and the British Business Bank, and will recommend improvements to the system for future applicants.

Martin Lewis, founder of, said: “For many, bounce back loans have been – as they were touted by the Chancellor – a speedy lifeline to support businesses and their owner’s incomes. Yet for a substantial number of people the story has been very different with a catalogue of problems.

“One in five have faced delays of over a month. Sole traders, in particular, have suffered being over three times as likely to be rejected as limited companies. Similar is true of small businesses which didn’t have business accounts with a firm offering one of these loans, as they’ve struggled to get any help.

“A significant number cited credit checks as a reason for rejection, even though the loans were touted as ‘available to all – no credit checks needed’.

“And of course while the loans were meant to be lender-agnostic as all banks were offering the same product, the experience certainly hasn’t been. While Lloyds has 81% net positive feedback, its major competitor HSBC scored a shocking -45%. It was only beaten by challenger bank Tide at -90%, which has failed to give virtually any loans yet. Tellingly, both these two invited new customers to apply – many of whom have had poor experiences.

“We will be sending a dossier of our findings to the Treasury, the FCA and the British Business Bank to hopefully improve the process going forward.”

See MSE’s news story for more details and analysis, including full tables ranking banks for customer experience, rejection rates for sole traders and limited directors, and waiting time.

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