The COVID-19 pandemic saw the launch of historic government initiatives to help keep the economy afloat, and help UK SMEs to survive the enforced lockdown.
Many SMEs have had to navigate and adapt to thee mandatory shutdowns and have seen a huge decline in customer activity since the outbreak began. SCORE, a network of volunteer small business mentors, surveyed SME owners to find out how they’re adapting and keeping open throughout the crisis.
One initiative that was potentially of interest to SME owners was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided funding to help these businesses keep employees on their payroll. A majority of respondents (55%) said they’ve applied for PPP loans. Of those who did, more than three-fourths (78%) received some funding.
SMEs— particularly those that are more established — have also looked to their vendors and creditors to potentially help them. For example, as of June, 44% had been able to delay loan payments, while 26% had received more favorable payment terms from their vendors. Many SMEs have even looked to their communities for help, as 12% said they’ve received financial support though crowdfunding or other requests. Despite the financial help, some businesses have had to take drastic measures to stay afloat, perhaps expecting revenue to drop for a while. Since March, nearly half (47%) have had to fire, lay off or furlough workers, but half of them hope to hire again in a year.
Among respondents to the SCORE survey, about a third of SMEs (34%) have made no major changes since the pandemic, while 9% have even hired new employees.