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Growth Company captures in-depth insight into impact of coronavirus on UK businesses and helps plot course for recovery

The Growth Company (GC) today provided the first economic insights from what is believed to be most in-depth live survey to date of the impact of coronavirus on UK SMEs.

The weekly rolling Growth Company Covid-19 Impact Survey provides an invaluable measure of the sentiment of almost 2,000 Greater Manchester companies to date, capturing a mix of resilience, optimism and concern among UK employers.

The UK’s biggest city-region survey will provide vital intelligence to help firms to prepare for the economic recovery and growth that will follow the crisis.

Findings are reported to the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum and are already supporting the GC Business Growth Hub in delivering its Covid-19 #HereforBusiness campaign. The survey will also inform the thinking and insight of the new GC Consultancy division, which will share policy best practice with clients across the country.

Download the full GC C19 Survey May 5

Key findings from the Growth Company Covid-19 Impact Survey to date*, show that:

  • Nearly every business (91%) regardless of sector or size is now impacted by CV19 and this has steadily increased over time (starting at 35% in first week March).
  • Staff on furlough is now substantial with around half businesses in the last week utilising the scheme; and of these 62% had furloughed at least half their staff (54% across all respondents since the survey began). These findings echo the 6 million employees currently furloughed across the UK.
  • Income and cash are the biggest impact with the latest figures showing over three quarters (76%) of those impacted experiencing a decline in sales and almost 40% have resulting cash-flow problems
  • Cash reserves are now also under severe pressure, with over a quarter (27.5%) of businesses no more than three months’ supply; and worryingly, a further 20% – this week – who are unsure of their cashflow timeframe.
  • Major supply chain issues are now affecting over one in ten (12%) businesses, concentrated in Retail/Wholesale (30%) and Manufacturing (20%); and worryingly in Life Sciences (29%).
  • Just under two-fifths (39%) of businesses are seeking some form of government loan or grant support, and correspondingly – in terms of support requested by businesses, over 50% of businesses to date (43% in the last week) are seeking financial support/advice, and rising numbers of firms are seeking support for business planning (up to 43% of firms this week).

However, despite severe impacts, the survey reveals business resilience:

  • Very few businesses are reporting they have, or plan to make redundancies.  Less than 3% of all respondents said they had made redundancies, but with a further 15% in the last week said they are likely to have this issue on their future agenda.
  • Alongside major challenges facing business, some firms have reported rising sales. 7% of firms in the last week reported growth, this has remained at the same level since the initial survey week. This would suggest a steady core of firms experiencing some form of growth/rising sales.
  • By sector, more than 20% of businesses in Life Sciences, and over 25% in Agriculture have experienced increasing sales, along with Education (15%), and Manufacturing (10%).

Alongside providing advice and support, the Growth Company is supporting businesses by signposting the financial support available, including the £3m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for Greater Manchester administered by GC Business Finance and the £629m in grants available from Local Authorities in Greater Manchester. ItsEmploy GM campaign with GMCA and delivery partners is helping to connect employers and people looking for work.

Mark Hughes, Chief Executive of the Growth Company, said: “The purpose of our #HereForBusiness campaign is to ensure that we are offering the support and advice companies need to continue operating safely and safeguard future jobs.

“We are now also starting to plan support for the businesses who will lead our economic recovery and it is heartening to see that their remains significant optimism among survey respondents.

“The depth of our relationship with the business community, combined with our skills and experience, means that we are perfectly placed to guide companies through this crisis and into economic recovery

“The results of our rolling survey provide reasons for both optimism and concern, but we are now at least armed with information to support our efforts on behalf of employers. We are ready to share the benefits of our insight, expertise and skills with partners and colleagues as we prepare for economic recovery and growth.”

Visit https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/business-survey for the latest weekly update from the Growth Company Covid-19 Impact Survey.

Businesses looking for support can visit the GC Business Growth Hub Coronavirus microsite atwww.businessgrowthhub.com/Coronavirus or get in touch for more advice and support by emailing [email protected] or call us on 0161 237 4127. Opening hours have been extended to Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am – 1pm to support businesses.

*The live Growth Company Covid-19 Impact Survey has been updated since 12 March. Press release data shows aggregate findings up to May 4. 86 per cent of respondents are businesses based within Greater Manchester.

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