Medium-sized businesses are ready to invest but targeted Government support needed for survival

February 2021

Our latest data shows how lockdown is taking its toll on medium-sized businesses, with 50% warning that they could cease trading in less than two months if restrictions do not ease. If the current lockdown lasts a further three months into April, 77% say they would be at serious risk. 

  • Half of South West businesses say they will struggle to continue trading if the strictest restrictions continue for a further two months 
  • In contrast, 57% of South West company leaders feel now is the right time to invest in their business 
  • Businesses are urging the Government to extend the furlough scheme (57%) and relax restrictions when possible (43%)

While the health implications of lifting lockdown restrictions too early will understandably be the primary concern of Government, the new figures from our Rethinking the Economy survey show that a continued shutdown could have major implications for the wider regional economy. 

Medium-sized businesses across the UK generate £1.4 trillion in revenues each year and provide one in four jobs, making them a critical part of any post-pandemic recovery. 

Our research also identified that nearly a third of businesses in the region (31%) have borrowed between £11m and £20m per business as a direct result of the pandemic, with a third unsure that they will be able to pay back their loans under the current funding arrangements. 

Despite this, 57% of South West businesses feel now is the right time to invest in the future of their business even against a challenging backdrop. The priority areas for investment are funding for technology to support more people working remotely (40%) and outsourcing their finance function (37%). 

Businesses in the region are looking to the Government to support by considering an extension to the furlough scheme (57%) and to relax restrictions as soon as possible (43%). 

Paul Falvey, Tax Partner at BDO LLP, said: 

“This data shows us clearly that while many of the region’s businesses have found new ways of working and are looking to invest in this and streamline their operations, others are within weeks of running out of funds if the current restrictions continue without additional support.  

“With so many businesses having taken on high levels of debt and unsure they will be able to repay, businesses will be looking for support in the upcoming Budget and are hoping we see policies and measures that will build their long-term resilience. The rate of recovery of mid-sized businesses will play a crucial role in the region’s overall economic recovery.”

You can see the full survey results here and read more about the trends from the South West here.

ENDS

Methodology

Bimonthly survey of 500 medium-sized businesses. Medium sized businesses are defined as businesses with revenue between £50-£350m. The survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of BDO in January 2021. The South West had 30 respondents. 

BDO

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP provides integrated advice and solutions to help businesses navigate a changing world. 

Our clients are Britain’s economic engine – ambitious, entrepreneurially-spirited and high-growth businesses that fuel the economy.  

We share our clients’ ambitions and their entrepreneurial mind-set. We have the right combination of global reach, integrity and expertise to help them succeed.  

BDO LLP

BDO LLP operates in 18 offices across the UK, employing 6,000 people offering tax, audit and assurance, and a range of advisory services. BDO LLP is the UK member firm of the BDO international network.

BDO’s global network

The BDO global network provides business advisory services in 167 countries, with 91,000 people working out of 1,658 offices worldwide. It has revenues of $10.3bn.  

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Tom James / Francesca Bliss

Headland Consultancy on behalf of BDO LLP

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