Lloyds Banking Group has been forced to redeploy hundreds of staff from branches to deal with emergency loan applications and customer support lines.
Some workers have been told that part of their job is now to send “decline emails” to small businesses applying for the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), according to a bank executive. Others have been moved from branches to help make lending decisions.
Lloyds said that some staff had been made responsible for sending rejection letters so customers could “get a swift decision and quickly consider other options”. It has approved fewer interruption loans by volume and value than NatWest and Barclays, despite having a similar share of the market.
The bank, backed by taxpayers until 2017, is also training branch staff to support “straightforward lending decisions”.
Banks have been swamped with applications since CBILS was launched last month, but have been criticised for responding too slowly and approving too few loans. Lloyds has redeployed more than 700 staff to help deal with a CBILS backlog.
The bank said that it had approved more than 80% of completed applications.
“We agree the great majority of applications, but to ensure we act responsibly, we must consider the viability of a business prior to Covid-19.”