As the cost of living crisis takes its toll and inflation continues to hit new highs, research from Canada Life reveals that four in five (80%) employees feel their employer should provide support to help with rising living costs. The top ways employers are looking for support from their employers to help with rising costs are increase in salary (54%) and contribution to bills (23%). Others include:
• Introduce a travel allowance – 23%
• Reduce mandatory office days – 18%
• Provide one-off support payments – 14%
However, a quarter (27%) say their employer has promised to support employees with rising living costs but has failed to deliver. Additionally, nearly half (47%) say their employer doesn’t realise the impact of rising living costs on the team, while a similar amount (48%) say the cost of living crisis is having an impact on their mental health.
Dan Crook, Protection Sales Director, Canada Life, comments: “It’s clear the cost of living crisis is taking its toll on the UK workforce and employees are turning towards their employers for support and guidance. As such, employers will benefit from being flexible and listening to the needs of their staff when thinking about the role they can provide in the context of the workplace. Through uncertain times the benefits of workplace protection cannot be underestimated, and we urge employers to highlight the additional benefits and demonstrate the value it has for their employees. We know that financial distress and mental health are intrinsically linked3. Through workplace support services employees can access expert guidance on financial issues, including reducing outgoings, budgeting advice, as well as debt management support.”
Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments on the Ofgem energy price cap increase: “The latest energy price cap increase is a fresh blow to the thousands of small business owners already at breaking point. SMEs are feeling the crippling pressure of rising costs, energy and fuel prices, alongside their ongoing recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Our SME Insights Report is a clear indication of the serious threat that skyrocketing energy bills are placing on small business owners, alongside the need for prompt government support. Three in five small businesses (59%) are urgently calling for a review of the energy price cap. As the energy price cap does not apply to businesses, suppliers are allowed to increase their out-of-contract rates by as much as they choose in order to cover their own costs.
“The surging cost of fuel and energy, alongside the overall rising cost of living, will also understandably see households cut back on non-essential spending. There is a domino effect in place. This impact on consumer purchasing behaviour will trickle through to the books of small business owners at a time when SMEs need our support the most. The reduced levels of cash-flow and liquidity will only make things worse for many.
“The latest interest rate rise also came with a clear recession warning, and poses a serious risk to many small businesses. Sole traders and microbusinesses will feel the pressure more than most. This all comes at a time when many are still in recovery mode following the pandemic. One in six (16%) believe they will never financially recover from the impact of the past few years. As a result, two in five (40%) owners are calling for long-lasting financial support from the government to help them get back on their feet after Covid-19.
“Rising fuel and energy costs are already one of the greatest threats to survival according to over half (54%) of all small business owners and we can expect this figure to rise further if SMEs continue to go without support. As we head into winter and bills increase further, there is a significant risk that thousands of small businesses will be forced to permanently cease trading. Small businesses sit at the heart of our communities and are vital to our economy. With almost six million of them in the UK, they account for over 99 per cent of all businesses, 33 per cent of employment and 21 per cent of all turnover. The message from small businesses is clear: this is a pandemic level crisis and the clock is ticking.”
In addition, hundreds of independent takeaway owners have written to the Government and both Conservative leadership candidates to plead for support in the wake of skyrocketing energy bills and rising costs. In an open letter backed by the British Takeaway Campaign – the body which represents the nation’s independent takeaway industry – more than 750 restaurant and café owners have urged the Government to take immediate action to ensure they’re able to keep their doors open.
The restaurants have said the Government must take the following measures:
- Cut VAT to reduce the cost of energy and keep food affordable for customers
- Provide grants to small businesses to cover the immediate cost of energy bills which are set to increase eightfold in some cases
- A moratorium on ‘red tape’ which is pilling costs onto the smallest restaurants
- Provide business rate rebates and greater forbearance from HMRC in agreeing repayment plans with commercial taxpayers in arrears
Restaurants cannot afford to wait another month without practical and financial support being introduced. Many of the restaurants the British Takeaway Campaign supports, including some owned by the Campaign’s board members, have shut down in recent weeks. The letter says: “Day after day, Britain’s smallest restaurants are having to close their doors for good. This isn’t only detrimental to the Treasury’s tax take, but to our communities and culture. The local curry house has been part of the fabric of Britain for generations, while the local fish and chip shop is synonymous with our heritage worldwide. If we lose these our local favourites, we risk losing part of what makes us British.”
Commenting on the publication of the letter, Ibrahim Dogus, Chair of the British Takeaway Campaign said: “The Government has waited until the last moment to act before, but now cannot be one of those times. It must work with the Conservative leadership candidates on a plan to support Britain’s smallest restaurants before it’s too late. Restaurants are going bust every single day, and the hundreds that have signed this letter, and the many more the British Takeaway Campaign represents, don’t want to be another boarded up shop.”