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April 23, 2020

SME Health Tracker: 39% of businesses will not be able to survive two more weeks of lockdown

By Joe Pickard

Access to cash in the short and medium-term is still an uncertainty for many UK businesses due to the trading conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic, finds ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network’s (The CFN) SME Health Tracker, a weekly poll of accountants working for approximately 11,500 small business clients across the UK.

The results from the poll which closed at 3pm (BST) 21 April shows 39% of business will not be able to access the additional cash they will need to last two more weeks of lockdown, a slight increase in last week’s result of 38%.

The poll did reflect some optimism however, with accountants reporting that 5% of firms will be growing in three months’ time compared to just 2% last week. Respondents also noted that 11% will be trading normally in 12 weeks’ time, compared to 5% last week.

ACCA UK head Claire Bennison said: “Our members have told us they’ve been inundated with queries about recent rescue packages – CBILS and the furlough scheme. This shows the urgency of the current climate and the need from businesses for professional help to navigate the rescue schemes available so they in turn can support their employees at this critical time. Indications show that HMRC’s portal has survived the initial influx of furlough applications to meet April’s payroll deadline, but we can’t stress enough the need for processes to be as straightforward as possible.”

The CFN funder Kirsty McGregor added: “The CBILS loan scheme is not making its full impact felt yet – in my experience as a business advisor, SMEs do not want to take on debt, when they are potentially facing a decision about whether to continue in business and to then risk having this on their credit record for the future. The concern about the ability to withstand cash pressure in the very short term still stands, and it will be interesting to see the poll’s results in seven days’ time. It’s clear that businesses large and small are having to make very big decisions about their future viability.”

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