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Findings on SCC Coronavirus Tracker Survey
4th May 2020
Scottish businesses are facing a catastrophic decline in cashflow due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and are coming up against barriers in government support, a new survey has found.
A snap survey of just over 350 companies in Scotland undertaken by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has found that without access to support, 48% of these companies expect they will run out of cash in three months’ time which is how long stringent measures to mitigate the spread of the virus are expected to be in place. Of these, 13% say they have less than a month before cash runs out.
Over three-fifths of firms (64%) who responded believe that there are gaps in the current business support measures offered by government. Half of firms surveyed have already furloughed – or intend to – furlough at least half of their workforce.
Commenting on the results, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“Both the UK and Scottish Government have moved quickly to staunch this catastrophic decline but what businesses are saying is it’s still not enough. If we are to prevent the Scottish economy from being damaged beyond recognition, businesses need cash in the bank now to be fit for when the country is able to start returning to day to day activities.
“Businesses are also looking for an economic recovery plan in Scotland that avoids a restart-stop scenario. We need clarity so we can plan ahead while still protecting the health of people across Scotland. Many are also concerned that Scotland’s recovery schedule doesn’t lag too far behind that in England, with the potential of creating a competitive disadvantage in Scotland.
- 35% of companies are telling us that their current cashflow levels will only cover them for a period of 1-3 months
- 13% of companies are telling us that their current cashflow levels will only cover them for a period of less than a month
- 9% are reporting that they have no cash reserves left
- Overall, just under half (48%) of companies have levels of cashflow that will cover them 3 months or less
Size of Respondents:
- 337 of the respondents (96%) are SMEs with workforces of less than 250 employees
- Out of these, the highest trend was of companies with 1 to 9 employees which made up 153 responses or 42% of responses
- 44 or 13% of responses were sole traders
How many employees are these businesses furloughing staff:
- 50% of responses intend to furlough at least half of their staff or more, with 19% of these intending to furlough all of their staff
- The highest single trend recorded was that 78 responses (22%) do not intend to furlough any of their staff
Feedback on Government Support
- 2% of responses are currently attempting to use the CBILS, 15% plan to use it, 8% have been unsuccessful in applying for this, 66% are not currently using it but know of it
- 46% of responses are using the Job Retention Scheme, 19% plan to use it, 26% are not using it now but know of it
- 13% of responses are taking advantage of the business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure, 7% plan to use it and 61% know of it but are not using it
- 7% of responses are utilising the 25k grant for retail, hospitality and leisure properties with RV of £18-51k, 9% have been unsuccessful in applying for this, 70% know of it but are not using it
- 48% of responses either are using the small business grant of 10k or plan to use it, 8% have been unsuccessful in applying for it, 41% know of it but are not using it
- 11% are using the SSP refund, 12% plan to use it with 59% knowing of it but not using it
- 42% of responses are either using or plan to use Updated HMRC Time to Pay, 44% know of it but are not using it
Gaps in Government Support:
- Over three-fifths of firms (62%) believe that there are gaps in the current business support measures offered by government, over a quarter (27%) are not sure and a tenth do not believe there are any gaps.
- The main gaps included a lack of accessibility to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), with many anxious of banks not paying fast enough and at unattractive rates for their business. Other notable concerns were businesses not qualifying for some of the business rates relief measures due to residing in a sublet or serviced office, and of businesses with premises of over £51,000 in rateable value not being eligible for any of this support.