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Small businesses and Covid-19: how has your area been impacted?

3-minute read

Anna Delves

19 June 2020

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A recent Simply Business survey found that the Covid-19 pandemic has cost the average small business in the UK over £11,000, but some areas have been hit harder than others.

We surveyed 3,700 UK small business owners and self employed people for our SME Confidence Report. We found that while every region in the UK has been impacted, the severity depends on location.

Cost to small businesses highest in Scotland and North East

While average lost earnings for SMEs across the UK was £11,779, our survey found that Scotland and the North West were hit harder than everywhere else outside of the capital.

Average loss of income – which includes lost earnings, work, and loan repayments – came to £15,483.65 in Scotland, followed by £15,039.52 for the North East of England.

Loss of income by region

  1. London – £17,074.36
  2. Scotland – £15,483.65
  3. North East England – £15,039.52
  4. South East England – £12,753.44
  5. Wales – £11,804.82
  6. North West England – £11,494.86
  7. The Midlands – £11,079.12
  8. South West England – £10,989.60

South West sees fewest business closures

At the other end of the spectrum, the South West has seen the least impact from the pandemic.

Not only does it come nearly £800 below the average in terms of lost income, it's also seen the fewest business closures – only two per cent of respondents in the South West had been forced to permanently close their doors, compared to the national average of four per cent.

The South East is in a similar position, with only three per cent of small businesses closing for good because of Covid-19.

Region% businesses permanently closed
London7%
North West6%
Scotland5%
Midlands4%
North East4%
Wales4%
South East3%
South West2%

Unsurprisingly, the South West is also the part of the country that’s the most confident about business returning to normal. 79 per cent of businesses in the South West and 78 per cent in the South East plan to continue as things return to normal.

How many businesses plan to continue as normal?

  1. South West – 79 per cent
  2. South East – 78 per cent
  3. North West – 76 per cent
  4. Scotland – 76 per cent
  5. North East – 75 per cent
  6. Midlands – 74 per cent
  7. Wales – 74 per cent
  8. London – 70 per cent

Wales most critical of government support

As well as finances and closures, our study also looked into how well supported small businesses feel by the government:

  • Wales came out as most critical of the support they’ve received, with just over two fifths of small business owners (42 per cent) saying they don’t feel supported by the government – the highest of any region
  • those in the South East appear to feel most supported, as only a third of businesses (33 per cent) said they don't feel supported by the government

Fortunately, over half of small businesses across the UK say they’ve been able to successfully apply for a government loan or grant, and just under half mentioned it was easy to find.

London crucial hub for small business growth

The capital has always been a hub of small business activity, so it follows that it's experienced the brunt of Covid-19 turbulence.

As well as reporting the highest average loss of income in the country, small businesses in London are also the most likely to have permanently shut down, at seven per cent.

However, London small businesses also reported the lowest rate of temporary closures – 61 per cent compared to the national average of 67 per cent.

On top of that, it seems like London will be a particularly important place as we come out of the pandemic, with 15 per cent of small businesses owners saying they plan to start a new business after coronavirus.

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Small businesses remain resilient

Our UK CEO, Alan Thomas, commented: “No corner of the UK has been able to escape the effects of coronavirus, and the financial impact across the country is startling. SMEs in the capital will be swallowing a cost of over £17,000 each – around £5,000 higher than the national average.

“While the financial impact of Covid on small business owners is enormous, we’re incredibly inspired by their resilience and equally encouraged by their optimism.

“With so many set to continue or restart their current business, and many others planning to open new small businesses, we expect confidence to continue to rise as we move through the stages of lockdown.”

Support for small businesses during the pandemic

Wherever you are in the UK, there's support available to help your business get through coronavirus. Visit our Covid-19 hub for information on government support, the latest updates, and to use our financial support checker.

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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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