One in three closed London small firms fear they’ll never reopen
A new study from the UK’s largest business group underscores the threat posed to millions of livelihoods by a sudden retraction of support for small firms in the weeks ahead.
FSB’s fresh survey of 5,471 small business owners finds that three in ten London businesses (32%) have been forced to close since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. Of those that have closed, 36% are not sure whether they will ever reopen again.
For those small businesses paying a mortgage or lease on their premises in London, nearly a third (32%) have failed to make, or faced severe difficulties in making, rent or mortgage repayments as a result of the pandemic’s economic impacts. A similar proportion (26%) have had to shelve product development plans. Among exporters, over a quarter (28%) say they have had to either reduce or cancel international sales.
In response to the strain being placed on them, more than one in three (37%) small employers are considering, or have already made, redundancies.
Seven in ten (69%) small employers in London have furloughed staff to aid the survival of their business, illustrating the extent to which the Job Retention Scheme has protected the livelihoods of millions as economic activity has slumped.
As initial efforts are made to switch the economy back on, 8 in 10 (79%) of these London businesses say the ability to partially furlough workers would benefit them. Of these, half (51%) say they want to bring staff back gradually, and one in three (35%) say it would keep their business viable.
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