Written by: Keith Tully
Around 14 per cent of all companies in the UK are not certain of surviving the next few months financially, according to a new set of figures.
The numbers come from surveys by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which found roughly one in seven companies feeling little or no confidence that they will still be in business beyond the early weeks of 2021.
The data was collected in late October, shortly before England went into a second lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic and other regions of the UK were faced with extensive restrictions of their own.
Companies operating in the accommodation and food sector were among those most likely to be uncertain that they could survive the next three months financially, with more than a third of hotels and restaurants apparently in that position as of late October.
But sizable minorities of businesses across a wide range of industries were also lacking confidence in their ability to remain viable into 2021, the ONS’ figures suggest.
The second lockdown in England and restrictions elsewhere have had a major impact on pub and restaurant businesses in recent weeks, with lobby groups representing the industry fearing widespread failures unless urgent financial support can be provided.
At the end of October, Begbies Traynor reported that there were roughly 557,000 companies across the UK in a position of significant financial distress.
The corporate insolvency company’s data suggests that around 30,000 businesses were tipped into significant financial distress during the second quarter of 2020, with many more likely to find themselves in that same position before the end of the year.
Julie Palmer from Begbies Traynor has said that the UK is currently facing a “perfect storm” from a business finance perspective, with “grim economic data” combining with “very poor trading conditions” to make life exceptionally difficult for a very large number of businesses.
According to the ONS, as of the end of October, around 9 per cent of the UK’s entire workforce, which equates to around three million people, were having their wages subsidised in part by the Treasury via the government’s furlough scheme.
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