Less than one in 10 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) feel that they have been adequately supported by the government during the Covid-19 pandemic, new research has found.
According to a new survey by cloud accounting business FreeAgent, 14 per cent of SME owners feel that they have been badly let down by the government, citing the lack of availability of grants, and the complexity of applying for both grants and loans.
Almost three quarters (70.3 per cent) of SMEs said that they have been negatively affected in some way by the pandemic, and 83.5 per cent are taking proactive measures to protect their business.
More than a quarter (27.8 per cent) told FreeAgent that they are reducing overheads associated with rent or office space, while 19.5 per cent are cutting staff wages through furlough and redundancies, and another 19.8 per cent are reducing investment in the business.
“While the government’s support packages have helped to reduce job losses, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the UK economy,” said Ed Molynuex, chief executive and co-founder of FreeAgent.
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“Small businesses and the self-employed, in particular, have been severely impacted by Covid-19, but many have not been eligible for the kind of support that they desperately need or are unable to identify if they qualify for support because of the complexity of the system.
“With Covid threatening the next six months – at least – of economic recovery, many freelancers and SMEs who are already feeling the strain will now be very worried about the future – particularly as we head into the New Year still uncertain on what restrictions will look like, how long they will last, and what impact they will have on businesses.
“It’s therefore important that every small business that can come through the crisis as a sustainable enterprise is provided with the support they need to stay afloat. Ultimately, they will benefit the economy and the UK will reap the benefits – in post-Covid times and beyond.”
FreeAgent’s research also found that approximately 415,800 SME business owners still don’t know if they are eligible for government support.