UK businesses are struggling to access the financial support they need to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, new research has found.
Financial comparison platform KnowYourMoney.co.uk commissioned a survey of more than 900 decision-makers within UK private sector organisations. It found that 42% of businesses had closed temporarily as a result of the pandemic – more micro (51%) and small (49%) firms had been forced to do so.
Almost half (48%) of companies have furloughed staff and 26% have made employees redundant.
However, the research found that the majority (71%) of those who have furloughed staff are yet to receive any financial support through this scheme.
Two in five (40%) firms have applied for loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and 45% have applied for other forms of loans or grants. Yet over a quarter (27%) of firms who have successfully applied for a business loan during the pandemic have not received the money.
Accessing financial support is clearly a key challenge for the private sector. A third (35%) of businesses have brought in external help for loan applications, with 26% saying they do not have the knowledge in-house for such tasks.
Elsewhere, KnowYourMoney.co.uk’s study revealed that 35% of firms still do not think the Government has done enough to support the private sector. Even more (40%) feel that small businesses and startups have been overlooked by the measures introduced.
Curiously, 31% of decision-makers admitted that their company has no clear plan for how it will navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. And 26% have no confidence in their management team’s ability to survive the crisis.
Nic Redfern, Finance Director at KnowYourMoney.co.uk, said: “Most businesses have not faced a bigger challenge than overcoming the current pandemic. Evidently, with closures and furloughing taking place on a huge scale, there is significant need for financial support within the private sector.
“However, knowing where to turn for financial support is not that straightforward, nor is applying for it. That is why it is not only essential that loans are made available to businesses of all shapes and sizes, but also the process of applying for those loans is made as simple as possible. What’s more, our research illustrates that the funds must then be released quicker – thousands of companies are waiting for money they have successfully applied for and this delay could run them into the ground.”