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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

Looking ahead, will your business pay for staff to be vaccinated for Covid-19 on an annual basis, if this becomes an option?

yes 42%
no 39.3%
Unsure 17.1%
Prefer not to say 1.6%

Is your firm more optimistic about its future than it was 12 months ago?

Yes, far more optimistic 27.7%
Yes, marginally more optimistic 38.6%
The same as 12 months ago 24%
No, marginally less optimistic 6.2%
No, far less optimistic 3.6%

How did your firm perform during the pandemic?

Grew strongly 19.4%
Grew moderately 23.9%
Traded at normal levels 26.4%
Moderate contraction 20.3%
Strong contraction 9.9%

How long do you think it will take for the economy to return to pre-pandemic levels?

6 - 12 months 16.6%
13 - 18 months 32.3%
19 – 24 months 24.6%
More than two years 21.7%
It will never return to previous levels 4.9%

Did your firm utilise government funding schemes during the pandemic?

Yes, Bounce Back Loans 24.3%
Yes, CBILS 11%
Yes, Recovery Loan Scheme 7.5%
Yes, a combination 9.5%
No 44.1%
Unsure 3.6%
Yes, Bounce Back Loans 22.7%
Yes, CBILS 11.6%
Yes, Recovery Loan Scheme 6.2%
Yes, a combination 10.2%
No 44.7%
Unsure 4.7%

Did the loan schemes go far enough to alleviate the financial pressure on businesses?

Yes 73.9%
No 26.1%

Now that the various government assistance schemes are coming to an end – or have come to an end - are you confident your firm will be able to survive without assistance?

Yes, we’re very confident 38.6%
Yes, but we have some concerns 33.9%
No, but we’ll keep trying 9.3%
No, our firm won’t survive 3.6%
Our firm didn’t take part in any schemes 14.7%

Did your firm have staff on furlough?

Yes, all of them 23.4%
Yes, some of them 34.7%
No, we have no staff 8.4%
No, I’m a sole trader 9.7%
No, we didn’t need to put them on furlough 23.8%

Did your firm have staff on the temporary COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme?

Yes, all of them 20.5%
Yes, some of them 44.3%
No, we have no staff 4.5%
No, I’m a sole trader 5.7%
No, we didn’t need to put them on the scheme 25%

Did the furlough scheme go far enough?

Yes, it’s been incredibly useful 58.5%
Yes, we would have closed down without it 27.8%
No, it could have gone further to assist businesses 12.3%
It should never have been offered – businesses should have been left to cope on their own 1.5%

Did the temporary COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme go far enough?

Yes, it’s been incredibly useful 42.1%
Yes, we would have closed down without it 42.1%
No, it could have gone further to assist businesses 10.5%
It should never have been offered – businesses should have been left to cope on their own 5.3%

Has your firm been actively encouraging employees to be vaccinated?

Yes 73.4%
No 22.3%
Prefer not to say 4.2%

Will your firm require new staff members to provide evidence of vaccination before employing them?

Yes 44.8%
No 39%
Unsure 14%
Prefer not to say 2.2%

Looking ahead, is your firm preparing for a winter lockdown?

yes 41.4%
no 44.6%
Unsure 14%

Will your firm be maintaining social distancing measures in the workplace?

yes 74.1%
no 18.8%
Unsure 6.6%
Prefer not to say 0.6%

Will your firm be requiring masks to be worn indoors?

yes 58%
no 28.8%
It will be left up to the individual 12%
Prefer not to say 1.2%

Will your firm continue to supply hand sanitiser for staff?

Yes, indefinitely 58.8%
Yes, for at least 12 months 22.3%
Yes, but unsure for how long 10.4%
No, staff will need to bring their own 1.9%
N/A we don’t currently supply hand sanitising 6.6%

Have costs increased for your business due to Coronavirus, i.e. due to cleaning more often, cost of PPE and hand sanitiser?

Yes, our costs have increased and we’ve passed these onto our customers 36.6%
Yes, our costs have increased but we’ve NOT passed these onto our customers 41.9%
No, our costs have remained the same 21.6%

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, will your firm's business travel be:

Increasing 20.7%
Remaining the same 48.2%
Decreasing 22.7%
Too early to tell 8.4%

Will your firm still be offering company cars as incentives, post-pandemic?

Yes 33.9%
No 33.6%
Too early to tell 9.7%
We don't offer company cars 22.9%

Will your firm continue to promote video conferencing as part of your meeting strategy?

Yes 59.8%
No 18.9%
Unsure 7.2%
We don't use video conferencing 14.1%

Has video conferencing increased your workforce's productivity?

Yes 48.4%
No, it's the same as before 34.2%
No, we need to meet customers face-to-face 17.3%

What is the main way video conferencing increased your workforce's productivity?

It's saved travelling time 58.3%
It's more convenient 36.9%
It's promoted collaboration 4.8%

Would your firm consider a four-day working week if it didn't impact productivity?

Yes 58.2%
No 32%
Unsure 9.8%

Has the pandemic made your firm more open to the possibility of a four-day working week?

Yes 48.8%
No 36.4%
Too early to tell 14.8%

Of these supposed benefits of a four-day working week, which appeals to your firm the most?

Improved health and wellbeing 33.2%
Enhanced worker motivation and engagement 22.7%
Increased productivity 13.3%
Better work/family/social life balance 18.6%
None of the above 12.2%

Is your firm planning to have a Christmas / festive office this year?

Yes, a face-to-face one 28.2%
Yes, via video conference 10.7%
No, it's too soon 25.4%
No, our firm does not have Christmas/seasonal office festivities 20.4%
Too early to make a decision 11.8%
Unsure 3.4%

Is your firm expecting to be understaffed at some point because of a build-up of holiday entitlement?

Yes 39.7%
No 50%
Unsure 10.3%

Is your firm allowing staff to take any holiday entitlement over to 2022 or the next financial year?

Yes, more than 5 days 33.9%
Yes, up to 5 days 27.4%
No, staff have to use all their annual leave entitlement during the agreed timeframe 26.9%
Unsure 11.8%

Is your firm rewarding staff with extra leave as an incentive?

Yes 34.6%
No 58.7%
Unsure 6.8%

Will your firm be offering annual pay rises?

Yes 38.2%
Yes, but only to some 17.4%
No 34.8%
Unsure 9.6%

Will your firm be offering bonuses?

Yes 28.4%
Yes, but only to some 19.6%
No 39.8%
Unsure 7.4%
We don't offer bonuses as incentives 4.8%
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