Coronavirus: Over one in three closed small firms fear they’ll never reopen

One in three small firms that have been forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic fear they’ll never reopen amid widespread redundancy plans, a new study has found. More than one in three (37%) small employers are considering, or have already made, redundancies and 71% have furloughed staff under the UK government’s job retention scheme to aid the survival of their business. FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Part-time furloughing is not a nice to have, it’s fundamental to saving jobs.” Paying a mortgage or lease on their premises has been a struggle for many small businesses as over a quarter (28%) have failed to make, or faced severe difficulties in making, rent or mortgage repayments as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Although the government has now launched a discretionary fund aimed at helping businesses in this situation, 81% do not know what share of their single charge is accounted for by rates, making it difficult for them to establish what, if anything, they might be able to receive. The FSB is calling for more access to improved local hardship funds and support for those excluded from existing grant schemes. The crucial support that’s on offer needs to be kept under review, and adapted to reflect the new normal as we chart a course back to economic recovery.