The UK isn’t saying who got emergency loans, while the US battle over transparency grows

Politicians from London to Washington agree: small businesses need billions of dollars of government support if they’re going to survive the coronavirus pandemic. But the need for transparency is a much less settled matter. Britain refuses to name recipients, and how much they’re getting, while a fight over disclosure is under way across the Atlantic.

“We recognise that there is a general public interest in the disclosure of information, as greater transparency makes Government more accountable,” the British Business Bank wrote in a letter to Quartz, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) that it manages. “We consider that the public interest in favour of disclosing this information is outweighed by the necessity to protect commercial interests.”

While it’s not naming recipients, the UK-owned development bank said it will, sometime in the near future, provide information about the amount of emergency funding each lender has made available to help small businesses weather the coronavirus disruption.

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