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New research that we have conducted during April shows that 830,000 people in the South East are at risk of unemployment. This is a stark and worrying number, but this is the reality of what the UK may be facing.

31% of the 1,793 SME businesses who participated in our research believe they could close permanently if the lockdown continues beyond June. Given there are 16.7 million people employed by SMEs according to the gov- ernment’s own statistics released in 2019, this could result in over 830,000 in the South East being made unem- ployed and 5 million in total across the UK.

Kirsty Wilson said: “This is not what anyone wants. Clearly therefore one of the most important issues that the government needs to focus on is to rebuild the economy. SMEs, who account for a significant proportion of the UK’s economy and workforce, need to be a priority.”

Together with the other member part- ners of the UK200Group, Knill James has written to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak highlighting the 3 key areas of concern for SMEs that the research has identified:

1. Access to bank funding to preserve their business;
2. Help rebuilding their business once the pandemic eases; and
3. More support for the self-employed to tide them over.

In our letter, we have called on the government to prioritise support for SMEs and in particular, we have highlighted the following measures that will help address SMEs current challenges:

1. Removing some of the administrative hurdles of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
2. Continued support for furloughed employees, rather than a hard end to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
3. Refining the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to ensure it is well targeted.

We are delighted to see that the government has announced a 100% government backed loan facility for SMEs to borrow up to £50,000. We will find out further details on the likely terms of these loans as well as further information on eligibility criteria over the coming days and weeks but this facility should complement the main CBILS scheme.

The ability to defer capital repayments for 12 months will be a key aspect for some business owners, giving them time to re-structure their business and the confidence to accept the loan.

But we also know this is not enough in itself. More support and more measures are needed; we know that many businesses need to see an end to the lockdown but are also worried about the impact on any on going social distancing measures. That’s why we will keep lobbying the government on behalf of SMEs.”

Concluding, Nick Rawson said; “In these unusual times we need to Stay Focused; Protect the Economy and Save Jobs. We are committed to doing our bit to support our clients by raising issues with the government on SMEs behalf and by collaborating with the government and others to achieve these goals.”

Nick Rawson, Partner 01273 480480 

Kirsty Wilson, Corporate Finance Director
01273 480480 

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