More than a quarter of UK SMEs say they need additional support from the government to stay afloat.
Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance has polled more than 1,000 senior business decision-makers at UK SMEs across a range of sectors, asking how the support from the government during the pandemic has impacted their business.
A third say their business would not have survived without state support. Even so, over a quarter (27%) of SMEs said they require additional government support in order to stay in business.
Businesses in the East Midlands (39%), Wales (37%) and Scotland (33%) were most in need of additional support, while SMEs in the North East of England required the least. More than half of senior decision-makers in the hospitality sector said they needed more state help in order to survive. Nearly a third of manufacturing businesses (30%) and retailers (29%) said the same.
Those sectors most in need of additional government support are:
- Hospitality and leisure (54%);
- Manufacturing (30%);
- Retail (29%);
- Marketing (27%);
- Construction (25%).
The findings also show that 23% of those polled have had to let employees go as a result of the pandemic. Nearly a third of businesses in London and the South East have had to make redundancies because of coronavirus, more than any other region in the UK. Firms in Yorkshire (13%) saw the fewest number of redundancies as a result of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC ) shows an increase in the percentage of firms expecting workforce growth.
The survey of over 5,900 UK businesses found that:
- 27% of firms expect their workforce to grow in the next three months, up from 19% in Q4 2020;
- The proportion of firms expecting a decrease in their workforce dropped from 14% to 9% between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021;
- 40% of firms tried to recruit in Q1, down compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 average of 55%;
- 63% of those who attempted to recruit reported difficulty finding staff.
However, the picture varies significantly by sector. Only 20% of hotels and catering firms tried to recruit in the first quarter of this year, while retail and wholesaling also lagged at 34%. On a more positive note, 50% of manufacturers and 54% of construction firms attempted to recruit in Q1.
Written by Rachel Miller.