Financial Difficulty

Support for your business

We understand that businesses sometimes face financial problems that call for extra support. If you are worried about your business, we want to help.

Get in touch as soon as you can if you think your business needs extra support.

We’re here to help you and your business get back to financial health and long term success.

It’s important that you contact us as soon as you identify a problem that may be impacting your business. Discussing these problems early could stop them becoming more serious issues in the future.

We can help assess your business’ specific circumstances and explore the different options available to you.

Early warning signs of Financial Difficulty

If your business is struggling to meet financial obligations, like payments to suppliers, landlords, employees or the Bank, you might already be in financial difficulty. It can happen for lots of reasons, including reduced turnover and delays in invoices being paid.

Early warning signs include:

  • negative cashflow (bank balances decreasing over time)
  • reductions in turnover or forecasted sales
  • reductions in profitability / increasing losses
  • late or missed payments to suppliers
  • late or missed payments to your creditors (including the Bank)
  • unusually high staff turnover
  • customers who owe money to the business are extending their payment terms
  • a loss of customers.

Help and information

As an ethical bank, we want to help you manage your money as best you can. We have specialist teams at the Bank to ensure you reach the right team for help and support. Find out more below.

Coronavirus Support

If you are worried about Coronavirus and the impact it is having on your business, there is financial help available.

If you already have a BBLS loan with, us the Government has announced Pay As You Grow options for Bounce Back Loan borrowers to help businesses get back to regular trading. Pay As You Grow could give you more time and flexibility to pay back your loan.

Find out more about Pay as You Grow options

Relationship Managers and Business Banking Specialists

Get in touch with a specialist. Our Relationship Managers and Business Banking specialists understand your business and can provide support for your specific circumstances by exploring different options with you.

If you already have a Relationship Manager and need support, please contact them in the first instance.

Learn more about our Relationship Managers

If you do not have a Relationship Manager, you can also access support by phone or email from our dedicated Business Support Team, who are experienced in supporting customers in financial difficulty.

You can reach the Business Support Team by emailing SupportingSMEs@co-operativebank.co.uk

  • Please only include your name, the name of your business and the contact number to reach you on and we will aim to contact you within 24 hours of the receipt of your request.
  • For security reasons, please do not include any sensitive or confidential information in your email.
  • Alternatively, you can telephone our Business Banking Team on 03457 213 213 call charges and they can arrange for our dedicated Business Support Team to phone you back.

Financial Support webinar

The Bank partnered with key North West business experts to host a free financial support webinar on 30 March. The webinar covered a wide range of issues, from key business trends to how to manage cash flow during the pandemic and ways to access financial support.

Watch the financial support webinar

Additional support

If you need further guidance and support, there are also other charities and organisations that can offer help and support.

Business Debtline

Business Debtline gives free and independent debt advice over the phone and online.

Visit the Business Debtline website

Federation of Small Businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses is a not-for-profit organisation offering financial expertise and advice to its membership of small businesses and the self-employed.

Visit the FSB website

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice, including debt support, via a range of channels including telephone, web consultation and WhatsApp.

Visit the Money Advice Service website

StepChange

StepChange is a UK charity which offers free debt advice based on an assessment of your situation, as well as practical help and support.

Visit the StepChange website

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offers free and impartial advice for people experiencing financial and debt-related problems.

Visit the Citizens Advice website

Further Support:

You can visit the UK Government website for more information about Coronavirus support for businesses.

Visit the Government's Coronavirus support page

Support tools

The Government has launched a new coronavirus business support finder tool to help businesses and self-employed people quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them. The tool asks business owners to fill out a simple questionnaire, which only takes minutes to complete. It will then provide a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.

Government support finder tool

Cashflow and your business

Running out of cash is the leading cause of business failure in the UK.

Cashflow forecasts can be really useful. It is vital to know your day-to-day costs like salaries, rent and suppliers, but it is also really important to understand the revenue impacts of taking on new business or delayed payments.

All businesses experience highs and lows when it comes to trading, but significant cashflow problems include:

  • regularly going into an unarranged overdraft or going over your arranged overdraft limit
  • missed loan or other borrowing repayments
  • late or missed tax payments
  • difficulty paying employee salaries / wages
  • business owners going without pay, or providing additional financial backing.

Improving your cashflow

Here are some considerations that could help to provide short-term relief during times of cash pressure. Clearly, you know your business best and you need to weigh up and decide on what would be best with your business strategy in mind

  • Debtors – ensure that you maintain a professional and business focused approach to dealing with debtors. This may include following up outstanding debts that are owed to you outside your normal payment terms and settling disputed claims.
  • Offers – you might want to consider offering discounts and renegotiating terms to ensure cash is flowing into the business.
  • Take deposits – if this is the right thing to do with your customers in mind, getting a partial upfront payment from a customer will inject cash into the business.
  • Look at your lines of credit – speak to your creditors and explore payment options with them, and ask for help if you are struggling to keep up to date with the repayments that are due.
  • Consider your stock levels – take care in building up stock even though it may be offered at a discount – will it be turned around quickly enough?
  • Rent – can you negotiate a reduced period of rent or rent free period? Remember, it is in the property owner’s interests to have the property occupied and let rather than empty.
  • Utilities / Insurance – can you improve the terms you have?
  • Overheads – review all your fixed costs and identify any areas that can be reduced or renegotiated.
  • Review your costs – including staffing expenditure, and ensure your business has the right balance between expenditure and trading levels.
  • Assets – review planned expenditure, is it still required? Non-essential expenses could be delayed. Explore finance options rather than buying an asset outright although you need to bear in mind that this may cost you more in the long run so you'll need to ensure you’ve carefully considered this. Review your assets usage – do you still require them and could they be sold to raise cash?
  • Check your prices – is your pricing at the right level? Are you covering all costs?
  • Management information – make sure you make good use of any managing information available and that it’s thoroughly analysed to give you a good understanding of key aspects of your business, such as sales forecasts. Will that great sale which has been in the pipeline for the last year really come off in the next month and what happens if it doesn’t?

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