ONE in three small business owners who have been forced to close their companies because of the coronavirus pandemic say they may never reopen.
Firms have struggled to pay their rent and have had to shelve expansion plans, according to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Business (FSB).
Around 70 per cent of bosses surveyed by the FSB had furloughed staffCredit: Alamy
Of the 5,000 companies surveyed, four in ten said they had been forced to close since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and of those, 35 per cent were not sure whether they would ever reopen again.
A quarter of the companies were struggling to pay their rent or mortgage on their premises.
And a similar number had been forced to shelve product development plans.
Many firms had accessed help provided by the Government, including the job retention scheme, which allows employers to furlough members of staff with 80 per cent of their wages.
Around 70 per cent of bosses surveyed by the FSB had furloughed staff to help their businesses survive.
But many said they were concerned about the process of returning to work.
The Government suggested this week that anyone who cannot work from home should consider going back in.
But three quarters of the businesses who had already furloughed staff said they were keen to partially furlough workers in the future so that people could come back part-time.
And half said they would like to bring employees back gradually.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt right across the small business community, with thousands of small firms all over the UK fearing for their futures.”
He praised the Government for “stepping up” with help in the form of the job retention scheme, cash grants and business rate breaks.
But he said: “Policymakers now need to realise that the economy will not go from zero to a hundred overnight once we’re into the recovery phase.
“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.”