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Freedom Day fears: Concerns and confusion for over half of SMEs as milestone approaches

3-minute read

Simply Business

Simply Business

14 July 2021

Freedom Day fears: Concerns and confusion for over half of SMEs as milestone approaches

  • With rising Covid-19 cases, new poll shows 53% of small business owners believe restrictions are being lifted too soon on Freedom Day
  • 30% of small business owners will retain social distancing and reduced capacity after Monday while 29% believe clearer guidelines are required for small businesses
  • Despite the concern, small business owners remain optimistic with 67% feeling confident about trading levels from Monday onwards
  • Covid-19 is ultimately set to cost UK SMEs £127 billion in total – double what owners predicted it would cost them when asked a year ago

It has been confirmed that ‘Freedom Day’ will go ahead next week as promised; unlocking England’s economy and lifting almost all virus-related restrictions – a move which will allow pubs and restaurants to operate at full capacity and nightclubs to open their doors. However, against a backdrop of Covid-19 cases surging across the UK yet again, Britons have been urged to keep wearing face masks in crowded, indoor spaces.

A new poll from small business insurance provider, Simply Business, reveals the mixed feelings this milestone is creating for SMEs and the self-employed. Over half (53%) of those polled believe social distancing restrictions are being lifted too soon. The concern is so great that almost 1 in 3 (30%) small business owners will retain social distancing and reduced capacity within their businesses.

The government decision to recommend the continued use of face masks in crowded indoor spaces represents a shift towards a more cautious reopening where personal responsibility has an increasingly large role to play. Almost half (47%) of small business owners think the responsibility for a safe unlocking should be shared by businesses and individuals.

However, the lifting of restrictions is understandably leaving small business owners with a headache and 29% think there should be clearer guidelines provided to help small businesses reopen safely.

This latest challenge comes after a previous 2021 study by Simply Business showed that Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6 billion in total – double what owners predicted it would cost them when asked a year ago. With six million SMEs in the UK – accounting for over 99% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of all turnover – this £127 billion hole in the books of small businesses represents a huge blow to the economy.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments: “No business, big or small, has been able to escape the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 16 months of restrictions, lockdowns, and uncertainty were always likely to take their toll. But the scale of the impact felt by the self-employed is abundantly clear from our latest research which shows Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6 billion – double what owners predicted it would cost them when asked a year ago.

“Small business owners’ hopes for Freedom Day are at risk of turning to fears, with over half of SMEs saying restrictions are being lifted too soon. Given the rising number of cases, it comes as no surprise that there are strong calls for clearer guidance on how to safely manage a full reopening of businesses. Small business owners need clear, consistent guidelines but the onus on personal responsibility breeds confusion. SMEs aren’t public health experts with the ability to gauge the threat of a disease.

“SMEs account for over 99% of all British businesses and contribute £2 trillion to our economy every year. They’ve been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns and will prove central to our collective economic recovery. With one in 10 small business owners not confident in resuming trading after 19 July, it's vital that we support small businesses through this latest – and possibly confusing – period of recovery from the pandemic. That's why we're giving away £25,000 to help one small business bounce back from the effects of Covid-19.”

Simply Business are giving away £25,000 to one small business owner as part of their Business Boost campaign – people can enter the competition online here.

-Ends-

Methodology:
Data: Survey of 936 small business owners from across the UK, conducted July 2021

Previous 2021 study: Survey of 1,206 small business owners from across the UK, conducted March 2021

How did we calculate the £126.6 billion figure? March 2021: 94% of SMEs surveyed say Covid-19 has/will affect them financially
We asked small businesses how much they estimate the coronavirus pandemic will cost them in total, including lost earnings, jobs and revenue. The weighted average of this cost is £22,461.

How did we calculate the £69 billion figure?
May 2020: 100% of small business owners surveyed reported being affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic
We asked small businesses how much they estimate the coronavirus pandemic will cost them in total, including lost earnings, jobs and revenue. The weighted average of this cost is £22,461.

£11,779 multiplied by the number of SMEs in the UK = £134,766,000,000

For further information, please contact:

Frank PR
[email protected]

About Simply Business

Simply Business is one of the UK’s biggest business insurance providers, specialising in public liability insurance for SMEs and insuring over 800,000 small businesses and landlords across Britain.

Launched in 2005, Simply Business provides an online brokerage service, delivering policies tailored to individual business requirements. Using the power of tech and data to create the best possible customer experiences, Simply Business employs over 800 people across offices in London, Northampton, and Boston in the US.

Owing to its internal underwriting capability, Simply Business can cover over 1,000 trade types – ranging from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. An accredited B Corp for their positive social impact, Simply Business has also been voted the Sunday Times Best Company To Work For twice in a row.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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