Almost one fifth (17 per cent) of the UK’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are unsure if they will survive the coronavirus pandemic, new research has found.
According to a recent survey from employee benefits service WorkLife by OpenMoney, the retail and hospitality sectors have been the worst hit, with almost one quarter of these firms unsure if or when they will be able to open.
Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of small firms experienced a drop in their income during the lockdown, while almost two thirds (62 per cent) said that they expect their income to be further reduced over the next year.
“We’ve all seen our high streets devastated during lockdown with shuttered shops, pubs and restaurants. The likelihood is that many won’t reopen,” Rob Marshall, managing director of WorkLife.
“But for those that can reopen, the worst is far from over. Income has reduced, while the changes needed to operate under social distancing rules are likely to push up their costs even further. This is a massive strain on everybody working there.”
Across the UK, 35 per cent of SMEs told WorkLife that they had been forced to shut down during the Covid-19 crisis.
More than 16.5 million people are employed in by SMEs. More than 1.2 million businesses have received a combined total of £49bn from government-backed lending schemes, while almost three million people have already been offered payment holidays on their mortgages and credit cards.