Revealed: the true cost of our Covid year

Covid has cost SMEs more than £126.6 billion – nearly double the £69 billion initially projected a year ago, one report suggests. 

On an individual basis, this amounts to £15,663 in earnings during a year of lockdowns and disruption – a significant rise on the £11,779 predicted in May last year. 

A year into the pandemic, businesses now estimate they will lose a total of £22,461 each on average, suggesting there are still more losses to come. And almost one in 10 expect it to cost them over £50,000. 

 Worse still, over 840,000 of the UK’s six million SME’s told the small business insurer, Simply Business, they are not sure they will ever return to previous trading levels – a potentially huge blow to both the UK economy.

As for the reasoning , eight in ten said they haven’t had enough support government support – with 41% saying they don’t feel supported at all. 

More than 2.2 million still haven’t been able to access government schemes and grants, seen by many as a lifeline in the circumstances. 

behind each of these small businesses is a small business owner – each with families, livelihoods, and dreams

For those that have been able to access government support, a third have been able to receive the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, a quarter utilised the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, and one fifth have accessed the Local Restriction Support Grant.

So far, only one in 20 have been able to make use of the business rates holiday, and just 3 per cent have been able to use the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Despite the government offering a range of financial schemes to support small businesses, it’s clear that many haven’t been able to access the vital help needed for their recovery.

Looking ahead, roughly half (54%) of SMEs believe the government’s roadmap out of lockdown has given them some level of reassurance to start planning the future of their business – leaving 46% still uncertain in the coming months.

 In recouping the money lost during the pandemic, the majority predict it will take anywhere from 18 months to two years (18%), or two to three years (20%) to get back the money lost.

Simply Business CEO Alan Thomas said: “Beyond the unquestionable economic hit, we should also recognise that behind each of these small businesses is a small business owner – each with families, livelihoods, and dreams. The impact of the pandemic on so many of these individuals has been devastating, both financially and emotionally.

“While the government support packages have proven a lifeline to many small businesses through the pandemic, our research reveals that 81% 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.”