More than half of UK dental practices relied on loans during lockdown

More than half of dental practices across the UK depended on government loans to make it through the COVID-19 pandemicMore than half of dental practices across the UK depended on government loans to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is according to a recent survey by the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers (NASDAL).

It revealed that 52% of practices relied on either the CIBLS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) or BBLS (Bounce Back Loan Scheme).

Further findings include:

  • Around 11% of practices took out CBLS loans (mainly private practices)
  • The average CBILS loan is £105k (12% of fee income)
  • 41% of practices took out BBLS loans, covering all types of practices
  • The average BBLS loan is £49k (7% of fee income)

The data was drawn from a sample of 121 practices, with a total fee income of £88 million.

Unsurprising findings

Alan Suggett is specialist dental accountant and partner in UNW LLP who compiles the goodwill survey. He said: ‘These findings don’t surprise me and reflect what I have found when speaking to dental clients.

‘The CBILS application process was particularly arduous and difficult. This meant that in my experience, those practices that applied for CBILS loans really did need the funds.

‘The BBLS, however, required just a couple of ticks and the money was in the account 48 hours later. I suspect that a large number of applicants did so on a “just in case” basis and will be happy to pay the money back in full next year.’

Real concern

He added: ‘One of the major concerns that NASDAL had when we reported to the short life working group (SLWG) headed up by Deputy CDO England, Jason Wong, was that most dental practices are fundamentally sound businesses. To see a good number in potential difficulty purely because of capital loan repayments is a real concern.

‘That is why it was key for us that in the recommendations, a government guaranteed loan support scheme to underpin lenders’ confidence in supporting dental practices and dental laboratories at risk was included.

‘When the CIBLS and BBLS repayments become due next year, we will see how many dentists and practices are in difficulty.’

Author’s analysis

With a potential second lockdown looming, it’s more important than ever that dental practices are able to keep their doors open.

The loans, alongside the additional PPE costs, means it’s likely the full effects won’t come into light quite just yet.

As a result, it’s important that dentistry remains high on the government’s agenda going forward – for the sake of the nation’s oral health.

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