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Support for vaccination strong among UK SMEs but more muted for vaccine certificate

  • 80% of business owners comfortable to be vaccinated against COVID-19
  • 59% support a vaccine certificate
  • 45% prepared to pay for employees to be vaccinated on an annual basis

The latest research from Close Brothers Asset Finance has revealed there is strong support among the UK’s SME business owners for the COVID vaccine; however, enthusiasm for a vaccine certificate is noticeably more muted.

Results from the survey* of 900 SMEs from across all regions of the UK found that 80% of business owners would feel comfortable taking the vaccine in their personal capacity; 13% would not be prepared to be vaccinated, while the remaining percentage are still unsure. Support is strong across all regions and sectors surveyed, included retail and services. 

Support for a vaccine certificate; however, has been met with less enthusiasm, with 59% in favour; 22% against, and the rest ‘unsure’. Backing is strongest in North West (73%) and North East (71%) England, with Scotland and East Midlands (both 50%) least in favour.

The survey also noted nearly half of business owners will be prepared to pay for staff to be vaccinated for COVID on an annual basis, should this become an option. From a sector perspective, support is strongest in Engineering (66%) and Construction (60%).

Of those firms who are seeing customers or suppliers face-to-face, 50% indicated they would – if it becomes available - like to see some sort of evidence of vaccination. Construction (65%) and Engineering (68%) are most in favour.

“The UK has led the way in the COVID vaccine development and rollout of the vaccination programme,” said Neil Davies, CEO, of Close Brothers’ Commercial division. “And our research suggests SMEs are comfortable with the vaccine’s effectiveness, with many owners (45%) willing to pay for their staff to be vaccinated - should this ever become an option - if it means they can safely return to work.

“There is an appetite to get moving again - the UK economy grew modestly in February (0.4%) while the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast annual growth of 4% in 2021 and 7.3% in 2022.

“In addition, trade between UK and EU is also picking up again following a big drop in January – figures show exports to the EU increased by 46.6%, partially making up for the 42% fall in the first month of 2021.”

The sectors surveyed include:

  • Construction
  • Engineering   
  • Manufacturing   
  • Food and Drink   
  • Transport & Haulage   
  • Wholesale and distribution   
  • Print and Packaging   
  • Retail   
  • Recruitment   
  • Services


*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Kantar survey conducted in April 2021. The survey canvassed the opinion of over 900 SME owners across the UK and Ireland and across several industries on a range of issues affecting their businesses.