Simply Business homepage
  • Business insurance

    • Business Insurance FAQs

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Sign In
Call Us0333 0146 683
Our opening hours

Impact of Covid-19 on small business set to exceed £126 billion

2-minute read

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

23 March 2021

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

As we mark one year since the UK first went into lockdown, new research reveals that Covid-19 is set to cost small business owners tens of thousands of pounds each.

We surveyed 1,200 small business owners and self-employed people across the UK for our study of the pandemic one year on.

Compared with research from May 2020, the latest report reveals that the coronavirus pandemic and multiple lockdowns have cost the self-employed double what they initially projected.

Download the Covid-19 business impact report for all our data

The below article gives a snapshot of our data, but to find out the full impact of Covid-19 on the UK’s small business, download our complete report.

Get your free 2021 report on the impact of coronavirus

Download your free in-depth report. Find out more about the cost of coronavirus and overall business confidence.

Your email address will be used by Simply Business to keep you posted with the latest news, offers and tips. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. Simply Business Privacy policy.

Small businesses estimate Covid-19 will cost them £22,461 on average

We asked small businesses how much they think Covid-19 will cost them in total, including lost work, earnings and total revenue.

The 1,200 people surveyed revealed it would cost them £22,461 on average. Applying this figure to the six million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, this amounts to a total cost of over £126.6 billion.

While almost one in 10 expect the pandemic to cost them over £50,000.

Graphic showing average cost of pandemic for small businesses

A financial blow to the economy

Over 840,000 small business owners aren’t sure if their business will ever return to pre-pandemic trading levels.

With six million SMEs in the UK, accounting for over 99 per cent of all businesses, 33 per cent of employment and 21 per cent of all economic turnover, the cost of the pandemic has the potential to send ripples through our economy and communities.

Has government financial support gone far enough?

While we’ve seen a range of local and national support schemes throughout the pandemic, a lack of clarity and limits on who’s eligible mean many businesses missed out on vital support.

Overall, 81 per cent of respondents say they haven’t had enough support from the government.

  • 41 per cent don’t feel supported at all
  • 40 per cent have had some support but not enough

What’s more, 37 per cent say they haven’t been able to access government schemes and grants at all, leading to a concern that support hasn’t gone far enough.

What support did small businesses have access to?

Our research found that while some self-employed people have been able to access financial support, it’s worrying to see how few business owners have benefited.

Government scheme

% said they benefited

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

33 per cent

Bounce Back Loan Scheme

26 per cent

Local Restrictions Support Grant

18 per cent

Business rates holiday

5 per cent

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

3 per cent

What more could have been done?

When it comes to what more the government could have done to support small businesses over the last 12 months:

  • 46 per cent say a wider range of financial support schemes
  • 24 per cent believe finance should have been released quicker
  • 24 per cent say greater communication and transparency
  • 23 per cent feel more clarity on restrictions and regulation in their industry
  • 9 per cent think applications should have been easier to complete

Uncertainty continues, but with a level of optimism

Our survey found that while there’s still a level of uncertainty, many business owners hope to return to pre-pandemic trading levels before too long:

  • 25 per cent believe trading will be back to normal by spring or summer 2022
  • 14 per cent predict they'll be back to normal levels by the end of this year

Countless examples of resilience

Alan Thomas, Simply Business UK CEO, said: “No business, big or small, has been able to escape the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – with 12 months of restrictions, lockdowns, and uncertainty always likely to take its toll.”

He added: “While the government support packages have proven a lifeline to many small businesses through the pandemic, our research reveals that 81 per cent of self-employed people feel it hasn’t been enough – with over two million SMEs unable to access any financial support.

“Yet in all of this, we have seen countless examples of the resilience, resourcefulness, and creativity that we have come to associate with the UK’s small business owners.”

How are you feeling about the future? Let us know in the comments.

Sign up for our newsletter

Looking for the latest news and features to help you stay ahead? Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get the inside track on the issues that matter to you.

Sign up now
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

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


HomePopular articlesGeneral businessGuestInsuranceLandlordLandlord resourcesLegal and financeMarketingNewsOpinionProperty maintenanceTradesmanCovid-19 business support hub


Public liability insuranceBusiness insuranceProfessional indemnity insuranceEmployers liability insuranceLandlord insuranceTradesman insuranceSelf-employed insuranceRestaurant insuranceCommercial van insuranceInsurers


About usOur teamAwardsPress releasesPartners & affiliatesOur charitable workModern Slavery ActSection 172 statementSocial mediaSite map

Customer support

Contact & supportPolicy renewalMake a claimProof of policyComplaintsAccessibility


6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Sol House29 St Katherine's StreetNorthamptonNN1 2QZ


Careers at Simply BusinessTech careersCurrent opportunities


BenefitsRefer a friendFinance


Terms & conditionsPrivacy policyCookie policyVuln Disclosure policy


Knowledge centreOpinionsMicrosites

© Copyright 2023 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.