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SME Data Hub

Each quarter 1,000 UK SME owners across a range of sectors, regions and sizes, are surveyed by specialist independent researcher, Kantar, on Close Brothers’ behalf.

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COVID-19

80

%

of firms have seen their cashflow impacted by the pandemic

Summary

Published March 2021

No business has escaped the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In our research we track its continuing influence, from the economic to how business owners’ mental health is making it more difficult to ‘switch off’

Questions

Have you seen an increase in late payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, late payments have increased by 25% or less 31.9%
Yes, late payments have increased by 26-50% 20.2%
Yes, late payments have increased by more than 50% 7.2%
No, we have not seen an increased in late payments 40.7%
Yes, late payments have increased by 25% or less 29%
Yes, late payments have increased by 26-50% 24.8%
Yes, late payments have increased by more than 50% 7.2%
No, we have not seen an increased in late payments 39%
Yes, late payments have increased by 25% or less 29.1%
Yes, late payments have increased by 26-50% 21.8%
Yes, late payments have increased by more than 50% 6.7%
No, we have not seen an increased in late payments 42.5%

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how quickly you pay external companies?

Yes, we are paying invoices more quickly 19.7%
Yes, we have been forced to delay some invoices 27.2%
Yes, we are unable to make payments are the current time 6%
No, invoices are being paid at a similar rate as before the crisis 47.1%
Yes, we are paying invoices more quickly 16%
Yes, we have been forced to delay some invoices 32.4%
Yes, we are unable to make payments are the current time 6%
No, invoices are being paid at a similar rate as before the crisis 45.6%
Yes, we are paying invoices more quickly 12.2%
Yes, we have been forced to delay some invoices 31.5%
Yes, we are unable to make payments are the current time 7.1%
No, invoices are being paid at a similar rate as before the crisis 49.2%

How long do you expect operational arrangements to be in place?

Less than 1 month 3.9%
1-3 months 15.3%
4-6 months 31.1%
7-9 months 13.3%
10-12 months 10.3%
Longer than 12 months 8.4%
We expect the measures put in place to become permanent 11.2%
Don’t know 6.6%
Less than 1 month 1.1%
1-3 months 13.6%
4-6 months 33.2%
7-9 months 16.7%
10-12 months 11.5%
Longer than 12 months 10%
We expect the measures put in place to become permanent 7.8%
Don’t know 6%
Less than 1 month 4%
1-3 months 21.1%
4-6 months 31.4%
7-9 months 12.9%
10-12 months 9.6%
Longer than 12 months 8.8%
We expect the measures put in place to become permanent 6.3%
Don’t know 6%

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how quickly your invoices are resolved?

Yes, we are receiving payments more quickly 18%
Yes, we are seeing more delays to payments 33.8%
Yes, we are seeing an increase in bad debts 6.6%
No, invoices are being paid at a similar rate as before the crisis 41.7%
Yes, we are receiving payments more quickly 17.8%
Yes, we are seeing more delays to payments 37.1%
Yes, we are seeing an increase in bad debts 6.3%
No, invoices are being paid at a similar rate as before the crisis 38.8%

What is the main impact COVID-19 has had on your mental health?

I find it harder to switch off 13.8%
I feel more anxious 20.8%
I have low moods more often 15.6%
I feel lonely 9.6%
I have had sleepless nights 13.7%
I do not think the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted my mental health 26.7%
I find it harder to switch off 14.3%
I feel more anxious 22%
I have low moods more often 14.7%
I feel lonely 9%
I have had sleepless nights 15.2%
I do not think the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted my mental health 24.8%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel about cash flow?

Not stressed at all 24.8%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 50.4%
Very stressed 17.8%
Extremely stressed 7%
Not stressed at all 22.8%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 49.4%
Very stressed 20.8%
Extremely stressed 7%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel about meeting operations costs, such as rent?

Not stressed at all 34.3%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 42.7%
Very stressed 17%
Extremely stressed 6%
Not stressed at all 31.7%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 44.1%
Very stressed 17.3%
Extremely stressed 6.9%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel about your duty of care to staff (financial and health / wellbeing)?

Not stressed at all 31%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 41.8%
Very stressed 21%
Extremely stressed 6.2%
Not stressed at all 27.6%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 42.4%
Very stressed 22.7%
Extremely stressed 7.3%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel about profits decreasing?

Not stressed at all 24.8%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 43.6%
Very stressed 21.6%
Extremely stressed 10.1%
Not stressed at all 22.6%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 41.2%
Very stressed 26%
Extremely stressed 10.2%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel regarding uncertainty about your business’ future?

Not stressed at all 28.1%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 40.7%
Very stressed 21%
Extremely stressed 10.2%
Not stressed at all 22.2%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 42.2%
Very stressed 24.6%
Extremely stressed 11%

Since COVID-19, how stressed do you feel about the economic outlook?

Not stressed at all 21%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 44.1%
Very stressed 25.1%
Extremely stressed 9.8%
Not stressed at all 15.1%
Slightly stressed 0%
Moderately stressed 41.4%
Very stressed 29.9%
Extremely stressed 13.6%

What is the main step you have taken to reduce your stress or anxiety?

I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family 13.6%
I have tried to maintain a routine 20.8%
I give myself regular breaks 17.3%
I’m more flexible with my working day 14.9%
I am staying organised 23.1%
I have not taken any action to try to help my stress and anxiety 10.3%
I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family 13.8%
I have tried to maintain a routine 21%
I give myself regular breaks 15.7%
I’m more flexible with my working day 18.2%
I am staying organised 19.7%
I have not taken any action to try to help my stress and anxiety 11.7%

What is the main operational arrangement you have had to (or will have to) put in place?

Working from home 45.4%
Staggered start times 16.6%
Alternate work days 9.1%
Enforcing social distancing 16.6%
None of the above 12.3%
Working from home 43.6%
Staggered start times 18.3%
Alternate work days 10.3%
Enforcing social distancing 16.3%
None of the above 11.4%

Has your business become more online-based as a result of COVID-19?

Yes, day to day operations occur online more 29.7%
Yes, more trading occurs online 25.9%
Yes, both operations and trading happen more online 8.6%
No, our business model is the same 35.9%
Yes, day to day operations occur online more 28.3%
Yes, more trading occurs online 26%
Yes, both operations and trading happen more online 9.1%
No, our business model is the same 36.6%

Have you invested more in digital infrastructure as a result of COVID-19?

Yes, we have made a significant investment 22.7%
Yes, we have invested slightly 36.6%
No, we have not invested in any additional digital tools 40.8%
Yes, we have made a significant investment 23.7%
Yes, we have invested slightly 35.7%
No, we have not invested in any additional digital tools 40.7%

What have you invested in?

Hardware 38.3%
Software 39%
Both of the above 22.7%

Do you anticipate your business to continue to allow more home/workplace flexibility?

Yes, for all staff 32.9%
Yes, on a case by case basis 36%
No, I think staff work better the office 12.3%
No, our operations prevent distance working 18.8%

In the last twelve months, have you had to postpone or stop an acquisition/Management Buy Out etc?

Yes, due to the pandemic putting pressure on businesses 23.4%
Yes, due to lack of available finance 17.2%
No, our transaction completed / is completing soon 9.9%
No, we were not planning this type of transaction 49.4%

How has the pandemic changed your approach to capital investment?

We are investing more in business assets 23.6%
We are investing less in business assets 29.1%
Investment into the business assets has remained the same 47.3%

Are you currently seeing clients or suppliers face-to-face?

yes 45.4%
no 54.6%

When seeing customers or suppliers face to face, will you continue with social distancing measures?

yes 87%
no 9%
Unsure 3.7%
Prefer not to say 0.2%

When seeing customers or suppliers face to face, will you insist they have a negative COVID test 72 hours old?

yes 51.8%
no 37.9%
Unsure 9.8%
Prefer not to say 0.5%

When seeing customers or suppliers face to face, will you insist they can produce evidence they have been vaccinated against COVID-19?

yes 50.1%
no 39.1%
Unsure 10%
Prefer not to say 0.7%

When seeing customers or suppliers face to face, will you insist they take a COVID test on your premises prior to your appointment?

yes 46.5%
no 44%
Unsure 8.8%
Prefer not to say 0.7%

When seeing customers or suppliers face to face, will you insist on wearing face masks during meetings?

yes 78.5%
no 15.4%
Unsure 5.1%
Prefer not to say 1%

Looking ahead, will your business pay for staff to be vaccinated for Covid on an annual basis, if this becomes an option?

yes 45.2%
no 33.3%
Unsure 20.3%
Prefer not to say 1.1%

In your personal capacity, will you feel comfortable taking the vaccine?

yes 80.2%
no 12.8%
Unsure 5.8%
Prefer not to say 1.2%

Does your firm support the idea of a ‘vaccine certificate’? (this would prove vaccination)

yes 59.1%
no 22%
Unsure 18%
Prefer not to say 0.9%

How supportive has your business bank been during the pandemic to your requests for assistance (e.g. loans, facilities, forbearance):

Very supportive 26.7%
Somewhat supportive 36.1%
Not very supportive 9.8%
Not supportive at all 4.2%
N/A No assistance has been requested 19.9%
N/A We do not have a business bank 3.3%

What level of customer service have you received from your bank through the pandemic?

Very high 19.2%
Somewhat high 32.6%
Moderate 38.9%
Somewhat poor 6.7%
Very poor 2.6%

Has your experience made you consider changing banks?

yes 32.4%
no 67.6%
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