Simply Business homepage
  • Business insurance

    • Business Insurance FAQs

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Sign In
Call Us0333 0146 683
Chat With UsChat support 24/7
Press Releases

Coronavirus set to cost SMEs over £69 billion

4-minute read

Simply Business

Simply Business

28 May 2020

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Coronavirus set to cost SMEs over £69 billion - with two fifths at risk of permanently closing

  • Impact of coronavirus to SMEs in the UK estimated to exceed £69 billion, with two fifths at risk of permanently closing
  • Poll of 3,700 UK SMEs reveals an estimated 234,000 SMEs have already shut down, while two thirds (67%) have temporarily ceased trading
  • As well as government support, SMEs are borrowing from friends and family, using credit cards and taking out private bank loans – and have concerns about paying back borrowed money
  • However, in a boost to UK economic prospects, 75% believe they will begin trading again soon and one in 10 (10%) are confident they’ll start a new business
  • Simply Business has launched a free Financial Support Checker to help small businesses and the self-employed to quickly determine what financial support and schemes are available to them during the coronavirus pandemic

The impact of coronavirus to SMEs in the UK will exceed £69 billion, with two fifths at risk of permanently closing, according to a new report by small business insurer Simply Business.

The SME Confidence Report spoke to 3,700 SMEs across the UK and found that SMEs estimate COVID-19 will cost them £11,779 each on average – including lost work and lost earnings.

With over 5.8 million SMEs in the UK, accounting for over 99% of all businesses, this amounts to a cost of over £69 billion across the UK.

Not only this, but two fifths (41%) of small business owners fear their business is at risk of permanently closing due to the pandemic. Well over a tenth (14%) believe they’re likely to close within 1-3 months, one in 10 (12%) within 3-6 months, and another one in 10 (11%) within 6 months – 1 year.

The study also revealed that 4% of small business owners state they have already permanently ceased trading due to the pandemic – amounting to an estimated 234,400 SME closures across the UK.

Impact to SMEs

While the report shows that all SMEs surveyed have been affected by coronavirus, the impact has been felt in a number of different ways.

Over two thirds (67%) have had to temporarily stop trading. Meanwhile, more than a quarter (28%) are earning less money and one in five (21%) are operating as usual but have lost work (e.g. contracts paused or cancelled, fewer customers).

A further 17% say they’re unable to work and are not eligible for furlough.

Top SME concerns

When it comes to the specific concerns of small business owners, almost half (49%) say they worry about losing customers or jobs due to coronavirus, and a further third (36%) are concerned about running out of money.

One in 10 (12%) worry about going bankrupt, a further tenth (10%) are concerned about being able to pay back government support taken out during coronavirus, and one in five (20%) worry about being able to pay back money borrowed from friends and family or private loans.

Financial help

The research also showed that SMEs have been receiving financial support from a number of sources. A third (35%) have borrowed from friends or family, over a fifth (22%) have used credit cards, and just under one in 10 (8%) have taken out wider or private bank loans.

In terms of support, three in five (58%) SMEs feel supported by the government – with over half (56%) saying they’ve been able to successfully access government support, and just under half (47%) mentioning that it was easy to find.

Cause for optimism?

SMEs are vital to the UK’s economic prospects, and it is encouraging to see clear signs of stoic resilience within this community.

Over a fifth (22%) report feeling optimistic about life after coronavirus and three quarters (75%) believe they will continue or restart their business after coronavirus.

Furthermore, one in ten (10%) feel confident they’ll start a new business – showing that despite the current pressures and wider economic uncertainty, many small businesses remain hopeful about the future.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “No business has been able to escape the impact of the pandemic – and that’s no different for small businesses and the self-employed. Yet they are the lifeblood of the economy, and with many of these at risk of permanent closure, so much is at stake for our local communities and wider economy.

“While it’s an undeniably challenging period for those running a small business, we know entrepreneurs have always shown resilience in abundance. And it’s hugely encouraging to see that this remains the case – with three quarters planning to continue or restart their business and a further 10% planning to start a new venture in the coming weeks and months. We’re inspired by their optimism and resourcefulness and believe this will only grow as we continue through the phases of lockdown.

“At Simply Business, we insure over 400,000 of these small businesses – from plumbers to accountants to dog walkers. And this means we’ve witnessed first-hand how hard many of them have been hit by coronavirus. We want to support every small business in weathering this storm, knowing that they play such a vital role in our economy.

“Financial support has been vital in keeping small businesses going but with so many new government loans and support schemes available, it can be confusing for owners to locate what they’re eligible for. That’s why we’ve created a free tool to make it easier to access the wide range of financial support – both from the government and beyond. It takes just a few minutes to complete, and then instantly signposts a business owner to the loans, grants or other schemes they could be eligible for, and where to go to access them.”

Simply Business has launched a free Financial Support Checker to help small businesses, landlords and the self-employed to quickly determine what financial support and schemes are available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

A simple questionnaire takes business owners just a few minutes to complete and will point them towards relevant financial support.



  1. See methodology
  2. House of Commons Briefing Paper, Number 06152, Dec 2019, Business Statistics
  3. See methodology
  4. 4% of total number of SMEs in UK (5,860,000) = 234,400


Data: Survey of 3,734 small business owners from across the UK, conducted May 2020

How did we calculate the £69 billion figure?

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 £11,779.

£11,779 multiplied by the number of SMEs in the UK (5,860,000) = £69,024,274,091.

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 900,000 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

Find this article useful? Spread the word.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Keep up to date with Simply Business. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media.

Subscribe to our newsletter


Public liability insuranceBusiness insuranceProfessional indemnity insuranceEmployers’ liability insuranceLandlord insuranceTradesman insuranceSelf-employed insuranceRestaurant insuranceVan insuranceInsurers


6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Northampton 900900 Pavilion DriveNorthamptonNN4 7RG

© Copyright 2024 Simply Business. All Rights Reserved. Simply Business is a trading name of Xbridge Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Registration No: 313348). Xbridge Limited (No: 3967717) has its registered office at 6th Floor, 99 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NG.