Most British firms can be ready to ‘restart’ within three weeks

Covid-19 News | Employment & Skills | Latest News | Surveys

This week, the latest BCC Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker revealed that the vast majority of firms surveyed say they will require three weeks or less to prepare to restart operations alongside any loosening of the current lockdown rules.

Smaller businesses may be able to restart operations more quickly, although 64% of respondents employing fewer than 10 people said that they would need less than one week – compared to 50% of respondents with more than 50 employees.

For firms of all sizes:

  • 25% said they would not need any notice
  • 35% said they would need less than a week’s notice
  • 29% said they would need one to three weeks’ notice
  • 7% said they would need three to six weeks’ notice
  • 3% said they would need more than three weeks’ notice

By sector

68% of business-to-business service firms said that they would need less than one week or no notice to restart operations, compared to 50% of business-to-consumer service firms.

The organisation’s weekly tracker poll, which serves as a barometer of the pandemic’s impact on businesses and the effectiveness of government support measures, received 540 responses. The sixth tranche of polling was conducted April 29 – May 1.

The tracker will continue to monitor business attitudes toward the restart of the economy – and the gradual release of the UK lockdown – over the coming weeks.

The number of firms accessing the government’s Job Retention Scheme remains consistent with previous weeks, with around 74% of respondents furloughing a portion of their staff. 

Encouragingly, since the scheme’s online application portal opened on 20 April, the vast majority of respondents (59%) have submitted a claim and received payment from HMRC. This week’s results do not report any firms being rejected.

At the time of fieldwork:

  • 12% of firms submitted a claim more than six working days ago and said they were yet to receive payment
  • 17% of firms submitted a claim less than six working days ago and said they were yet to receive payment
  • 11% have not yet made a claim, but plan to

Commenting on the results, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: Over the coming days, business communities will require clear forward guidance from government on plans to re-open parts of the economy, transport networks, schools and local services. Our results show that businesses’ ability to restart quickly varies by company size, and by sector.

“For these reasons and more, it will be crucial for the government to maintain and evolve support for businesses, to give as many firms as possible the chance to navigate a phased return to work.

While the fight against Coronavirus must remain the top priority, the communication of plans for the easing of restrictions must also begin immediately. The Chamber Network will continue to work constructively with governments across the UK to plan a coherent path forward.”

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