Companies need help fast says British Chambers of Commerce

Nearly two thirds of UK companies have cash reserves that will last for three months or less if conditions remain as they are, according to new figures from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The BCC's first Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker shows what the organisation describes as a “concerning, if unsurprising” situation for companies. It shows that 62% of businesses have three months cash, or less, in reserve, and that 44% of them expect to furlough at least half of their workforce in the next week. Nearly a third (32%) expect to furlough between 75% and 100% of m employees.

The first set of polling was conducted with BCC members over 25-27 March, with more than 600 businesses taking part. It showed a significant decrease in revenues both within the UK and internationally.

The majority of companies polled were aware of government initiatives to help them, including business rates holidays for the retail and leisure sectors.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on business and economic activity across the UK,” said BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall.

“While businesses have welcomed the unprecedented size and scope of the government support packages, our findings highlight the urgent need for that support to reach businesses on the ground as soon as possible. The majority of firms cannot wait weeks or months for help to arrive,” he added.

“There’s no escaping the scale of the challenge UK businesses are facing, yet many are already finding ways to contribute to the national effort to tackle coronavirus. Chambers and their members are working together to play their part, including gathering unused PPE equipment from local businesses and delivering them to the NHS. I’ve no doubt we will see further examples of resilience and innovation – the hallmarks of the UK business community – in the coming weeks and months.”

Yesterday, similar research from The Corporate Finance Network revealed that nearly a fifth of SMEs in the UK will not have the cash to survive over the next four weeks. The findings show that many retailers, which is the sector which has the highest share of SME employment in the UK, will require a substantial cash injection in the coming weeks to keep trading.

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