Covid 19 Survey Results

COVID-19 Micro & Small Business Survey (16/04/2020)
 

The Enterprise NI network continue to work, daily, with hundreds of businesses during the Covid-19 crisis. We are helping businesses to survive, to make sense of and access the support measures and to begin to plan for ‘reboot’ when restrictions begin to be relaxed. During this past week, 500 businesses responded to our short survey, aimed at summarizing how micro and small businesses are coping. The findings underpin the information and proposals we have submitted to government in recent days.  

48% ARE CONCERNED ABOUT BUSINESS NOT SURVIVING. BEARING IN MIND THE EFFECT OF GETTING ACCESS TO SUPPORT MEASURES THEY ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THESE BUSINESSES FEEL THEY CAN ONLY SURVIVE FOR:
1-6 months      37%
6-12months      11%
 
LIQUIDITY IS THE BIGGEST CONCERN DURING THE NEXT 6-12 WEEKS. BIGGEST CASHFLOW CONCERNS ARE:

  • Decreasing/stalled sales     86%  
  • Not getting paid by customer/debtors   63%
  • Having to pay suppliers/creditors   59%
  • Having to pay property/utility costs/insurance  68%
  • Having to service existing business loans   45%
  • Having to furlough or lay off staff   42%

 
BUSINESSES ARE HAVING PROBLEMS ACCESSING SUPPORT SCHEMES

Small Business Grant     66% have concerns 

  • “Told I’m not eligible as I pay my rent/rates inclusive and don't have a separate rates number”
  • “Still have not received my 10k grant though other businesses close to me have’’
  • “Still waiting on grant, have had no information on how long it will be -soon I'll not be able to pay my bills.’’ 

 
Business Interruption Loan Scheme   60% have concerns about access
 

  • “Contacted bank, they have not got back to me with info” 
  • “Applications made over a week ago with no response”
  • “I applied for and overdraft and still waiting to hear”
  • “Will be difficult to get. There should be clear, simple and consistent guidelines for this.”

 
Many have concerns about cost of debt and ability to pay it back in uncertain future:  

  • “Worried about borrowing money I may not be able to pay back” 
  • “Worried about high interest rates” 
  • “It is a loan that will have to be repaid - business could take up to a year to recover and banks won’t understand that”

Job Retention Scheme     34% have concerns 

  • “Impacting on cash reserves. Will need to receive Furlough payments soon to prevent layoffs.”
  • “Paying the payroll up front with no income is impossible”
  • “Have furloughed my two members of staff but with no income due to my business being closed I'm not sure how I'll pay them until I get the reimbursement as I've been turned down for the business interruption loan”


Self-Employed Income Support    39% have concerns

  • “Hopefully I'll be eligible for this but don't know how I'm meant to survive until end of June to get payments” 
  • “Not available till June and not sure how to apply”
  • “What is there available for directors who receive dividends?”
  • "This scheme excludes start-up and early stage self-employed who may not yet be in profit due investing heavily in business growth – not fair’’

 
BUSINESSES TOLD US THE PRACTICAL SUPPORT THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE COMING WEEKS: 


80% want more clarity and more speed around existing schemes:

  • “need more clarity around support schemes”   
  • “how can I access a business grant?” 
  • “I’m not sure if I’m eligible.”
  • “Self-employment payment is too late – I can’t live off savings for that long”
  • “Prompt payment of grant and bank response on loan application is essential”
  • “Need to be more flexibility to support furloughing on a part-time basis” 

45% need immediate access to a cash grant but have ‘fallen between the cracks’ so far:

  • “Grant from government for functioning business that do not have rateable premises”
  • “I have fallen outside of all categories – there must be some support for a genuine start-up, as a sole trader -but who hasn’t been trading long enough to qualify”
  • “I should be entitled to a grant to help me survive, but I pay my rates as part of rent/rates/service”

38% are calling for support to be extended for longer than 3 months.

  • “Cash schemes will need to be extended with a second round, if this continues longer than three months”
  • “Rates need to be cancelled for much longer than 3 months“
  • "There will need to be financial help after June to help us survive and build sales again”
  • “The job retention scheme would be very important to be retained until the business begins to build income again” 

60% want special financial assistance to help them to recover and rebuild the business as restrictions are relaxed

  • “A return to business plan from government with cashflow support, to get the economy up and running again”
  • “Financial aid for micro businesses to who are just trying to get on their feet again”
  • “Immediate financial support, not delayed months, so that I have a business to build again”
  • “Financial support for non-rate paying businesses is needed if we are to survive”
  • “Sensible funding to regenerate our business after restrictions have been removed”


Businesses also want:
more flexibility and support from banks

  • “interest free overdraft for a year”
  • “repayment holiday on loan”
  • “Easy access, easily understood and quick decision loans” 

immediate mentoring and guidance

  • “I am very unsure about what is available to me and this is very stressful. My business will collapse without help”
  • “Somewhere where I can ask questions and hear how other businesses are coping”
  • “An assigned person to help businesses in our area”
  • “help to understand the cash grants and furloughing”
  • “more information and someone to speak to personally”

mentoring and guidance on the way ahead

  • “I would like a business advisor to help me with the likely future of my business”
  • "Help with future planning”
  • “Training for businesses on doing business digitally”
  • “How we can return to normal during an exit plan”
  • “Funding to regenerate business after restrictions are removed”

support for mental health and well-being challenges

  • “I am worried for my family and my employee’s families”
  • “I just don’t know how we will support ourselves”
  • “staff morale during furloughing and isolation”
  • “I am really going to struggle to do this all again” 

Sector spread of businesses that responded:

  • Agriculture and Agri-food   1.75%
  • Manufacturing     11%
  • Construction     9.5%
  • Retail and Wholesale    15%
  • Transport & Storage & Distribution  2%
  • Hospitality Tourism and Leisure   19%
  • ICT and Technology Based Business  6.5%
  • Financial Services and Support   4.5%
  • Professional Services (including consultancy) 20%
  • Arts/Screen/Animation/Media   3%
  • Marketing, Advertising & PR   2%
  • Other      4.75%