Labour Business has surveyed our members on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on their businesses. The results are sobering, and identify numerous shortcomings in the Government’s financial support package.
”We’ll get through this, but no thanks to the Government.” This is one of three key themes to emerge from the latest survey of Labour Business members on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the Government’s financial response to it:
- Businesses are broadly confident that they will survive the Coronavirus crisis.
- Businesses requiring Government support and advice have found it’s taken too long and been toobureaucratic to apply for, resulting in negative impacts on their businesses, including insolvency.
- There is an urgent need for a plan for how businesses can emerge from the crisis. However, theGovernment appears to have no exit plan and no vision for how to re-energise the business sector when the crisis abates.
Respondents ranged from freelancers/self-employed (39%) to representatives or owners of companies employing others (61%) – one of our members employs 15,000 people. In terms of turnover, the respondents were divided as follows: small-sized – less than £2 million (57%), medium sized – turning over up to £50 million (26%), and large firms turning over more than £50 million (16%).
Respondents are active in a wide cross-section of the UK economy including Automotive, Creative Industries, Education, Electronics, Financial Services, Health, IT, Legal, Marketing, PR and Retail. The response rate of Labour Business members was a remarkably high 30%.
The key findings are:
- A majority of our members refuse to be cowed by the pandemic with just over 2/3 expecting to survive somehow, but no thanks to the financial package promised by the Government.
- The Government’s business survival measures have been too slow in coming, ill-thought out and are likely to worsen business prospects unless amended very quickly.
- Immediate reactions to the crisis include: closure by 16%, and remodeling (e.g. moving from in- house to take-away, or from business premises to homeworking on-line) by 52% of the respondents employing other people.
- Of those impacted by the crisis, 63% have furloughed employees, but only 15% have laid off employees and in tiny numbers compared to their total workforce.
- Nearly 2/3rds of those who are employers are taking a personal hit by cutting their own income, whether in dividends, salary or fees (64% of respondents).Regarding Government support, respondents report that:
- 23% think they might be eligible for NONE of the schemes announced to date.
- Over half (55%) have NOT applied for any.
- 31% do not expect to receive any Government help.
- 46% expect the delay in Government assistance will have a detrimental effect on their business.
- About 1/3 of all respondents have sought advice, the majority (59%) from professionals (e.g.accountant, solicitor or business consultant).
- Nearly 80% received pro bono advice; about 50% thought that advice given the circumstances wasuseful.
Full results are set out in the document below: Appendix A, verbatim comments/suggestions from our members in Appendix B, and the original questions in Appendix C.