British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is seen in Downing Street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain September 24, 2020. REUTERS / John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) – UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday he would introduce a new program to give businesses the option of repaying loans taken during the coronavirus crisis, giving them up to 10 years to pay off loans instead of six.

Under the government’s Bounce Back loan program, 1.3 million small businesses have taken out a total of £ 38.0 billion ($ 48.4 billion) in loans worth up to £ 50,000 each , from banks that have received a 100% state guarantee.

“To give these businesses more time and more flexibility to repay their loans, we are launching the Pay-as-you-Grow system. This means that loans can now be extended from six to 10 years, which cuts the average monthly repayment by more than half, ”Sunak told parliament.

“Distressed businesses can now choose to pay only interest, and anyone in real trouble can request a full suspension of repayments for up to six months. “

Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce, written by Alistair Smout, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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