Small businesses thrown a lifeline?

Government guarantees £20bn of loans to see small businesses through tough times
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The Government has announced plans to offer £20bn worth of loans to the UK's small businesses, many of which will be hit hardest by the downturn.

In return for a fee, the state will effectively insure banks against defaulted loan repayments, says the BBC.

The Conservative Party has said that £20bn may not cover the bill and has called for £50bn to be made available, something which would give the banks far more confidence in lending.

£225 million has also been put aside to cover repayments that could not be made.

Business failures were said to be 18.2 per cent higher in 2008 than 2007, according to Equifax.

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