Nearly a quarter of retailers and hospitality firms do not know when they will reopen doors
Research by carried out in the UK's small business sector has revealed that 35% of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) said they had closed their business as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the Small Business Monitor from WorkLife - a new employee benefits service from OpenMoney - while 18% said they were planning to reopen, 17% said they were unsure when they would be able to get back to work.
The research found that the retail and hospitality sectors were worst hit, with 24% saying that they did not know when they would be up and running again.
Almost three quarters (73%) of firms saw their income reduce during the pandemic, with 46% reporting that it had fallen by up to 50%. Meanwhile, 62% of SMEs expect their income to remain subdued over the next 12 months, with 42% saying it will be reduced by up to 50%. Five percent of firms said they do not expect to recover any income at all over the coming year.
Rob Marshall, managing director of WorkLife, said that companies and employees need help to get back on their feet. He said: "We've all seen our high streets devastated during lockdown with shuttered shops, pubs and restaurants. The likelihood is that many won't reopen.
"But for those that can reopen, as our Small Business Monitor shows, the worst is far from over. Income has reduced, while the changes needed to operate under social distancing rules are likely to push up their costs even further. This is a massive strain on everybody working there."
According to government data, the UK small business sector employs more than 16.5 million people.
In June, WorkLife launched as an employee benefits platform partnered with Anorak. It offers a range of benefits and services, including financial advice, to SMEs.
Marshall said: "As our research shows, the current situation is bad news for bosses and terrible news for their employees, many of whom will already be worried about job security and their personal financial situation. But with WorkLife, there is a real opportunity for employers to provide their workers with the help they need during what is clearly going to be a difficult period of recovery and return to work. And it won't cost companies a penny for the rest of 2020."
WorkLife's Small Business Monitor is based on research carried out by 3Gem among 750 senior financial and HR decision makers in UK SME companies with 5 to 250 employees.
‘Employers can take action now’
£4m GWP per annum across its portfolio
Fully interactive virtual conference
Canada Life research
Only 6% currently receiving it