Metro Bank Smes

New polling has found that almost half (46%) of UK small businesses will struggle to pay business rates after the government reduced its business rates relief scheme from 100% to 66% earlier this month.

The survey, commissioned by Metro Bank and conducted by Research Without Barriers, found that only four in 10 (39%) SMEs have seen an increase in revenue since the easing of lockdown on 17 May.

Nearly one in five (18%) have in fact seen a drop in revenues since that time, according to the research.

SMEs account for 99.9% of the UK business community and almost a third (32%) have benefitted from the business rates holiday the government introduced last year in response to COVID-19.

Of those that did benefit from the relief, 71% said it had allowed them to keep their business running.

Aside from these concerns about the return of business rates, the Metro Bank survey did unearth some green shoots of recovery.

For example, one in eight (12%) of SMEs surveyed had been set up after March 2020, reflecting the growing number of people that have spotted opportunities and started businesses in light of COVID-19.

The types of businesses being founded were predominantly specialising in healthcare, manufacturing and utilities.

Jo MacDonald, Director of Bank Accounts at Metro Bank, said: “This latest polling shows us that a significant number of our country’s small businesses are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic.

“Many of them require patient and tailored financial support in order to keep trading in the current environment.

“We should never underestimate the value of human relationships in banking.

“People value other people, and as businesses in the UK recover after what’s been a really tough period, that’s arguably more important now than ever before.”

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Richard Dawson
Article by Richard Dawson
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