A new survey of more than 900 decision-makers within UK businesses has uncovered how they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
Financial comparison platform KnowYourMoney.co.uk commissioned the research within the UK private sector and found that 42% of businesses had closed temporarily as a result of the pandemic, with more micro (51%) and small (49%) firms forced to do so.
Closures in the pet trade will clearly be considerably less than this as pet shops and pet food manufactures were declared key businesses early on in the lockdown. Most boarding and doggy daycare businesses closed, however, as their trade is reliant on customers holidaying or going out to work. Groomers, mostly closed, too, although many have now reopened, working strictly under social distancing guidelines.
Nearly half (48%) have furloughed staff and 26% have made employees redundant – yet the majority (71%) of those who have furloughed staff are yet to receive any financial support through the scheme.
And over a quarter (27%) of firms who have successfully applied for a business loan during the pandemic have still not received it.
More than a third 35% of those surveyed don’t feel the Government has done enough to help the private sector during the pandemic, with 40% feeling that start-ups have been overlooked.
Forty per cent of firms have applied for loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and 45% have applied for other forms of loans or grants. Yet over a quarter (27%) of firms who have successfully applied for a business loan during the pandemic have not yet received the money.
Accessing financial support is apparently a key challenge for the private sector. A third (35%) of businesses have brought in external help for loan applications, with 26% saying they do not have the knowledge in-house for such tasks.
A worrying 31% of decision-makers admitted that their company had no clear plan for how it would navigate the covid-19 pandemic ¬- and 26% have no confidence in their management team’s ability to survive the crisis.
Nic Redfern, finance director at KnowYourMoney.co.uk, said: “Most businesses have not faced a bigger challenge than overcoming the current pandemic. Evidently, with closures and furloughing taking place on a huge scale, there is significant need for financial support within the private sector.
“However, knowing where to turn for financial support is not that straightforward, nor is applying for it. That is why it is not only essential that loans are made available to businesses of all shapes and sizes, but also the process of applying for those loans is made as simple as possible.
“What’s more, our research illustrates that the funds must then be released quicker – thousands of companies are waiting for money they have successfully applied for and this delay could run them into the ground.”
Have you applied for funding, have you received the money yet and will you be deferring your VAT? Let us know what you think of the Government’s various support packages via email at [email protected] – we would like to share your experiences with the trade but will be happy to do so anonymously.