Press release

4 Oct 2021 London, GB

Over a third of UK SMEs concerned about ability to repay COVID-19 financial support

81% of UK SMEs say they were detrimentally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Press contact
Victoria Luttig

Manager, Media Relations, Ernst & Young LLP

Part of the UK PR team, focused on financial services. Covers all things to do with banking, insurance and wealth and asset management. Love sports and travelling. Married and mum of two boys.

  • 81% of UK SMEs say they were detrimentally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
    • 61% state their supply chain was compromised
    • 58% reported a decline in revenue and profit margin, and 
    • 57% saw a drop in sales volumes
  • 88% of UK SMEs received some sort of support from financial institutions and/or the Government, 35% of which are now concerned about their ability to repay
  • Recovering from the pandemic is described as one of the ‘main challenges’ for over half of UK SMEs (51%), indicating that they will likely require ongoing support from financial institutions
  • Just under half (46%) of UK SMEs have plans to adjust their business models and go more digital in response to changing market conditions

Anita Kimber, UK Financial Services Partner and EMEIA Business Transformation Leader at EY, comments:

“Businesses of all sizes have been impacted by the pandemic, but SMEs have disproportionately suffered, with large numbers relying on financial support just to survive. While the worst of the health aspect of the pandemic is hopefully now behind us, economic recovery remains a huge challenge, and is being acutely felt by many small firms that are now concerned with how they will repay their debt.

“At this important juncture, it’s critical that all financial services providers continue to do everything they can to support SMEs through the recovery effort and beyond, offering  personalised recovery planning and seizing the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of these businesses. Continued financial and business support that is easily accessible and offers fast access to funding when required will be fundamental for UK SMEs as they get back on their feet and look beyond recovery, to growth.”

Notes to editors:
For the purpose of the study, an SME was defined as a business with between 10 and 249 full-time equivalent employees.
The research formed part of a global study. The data referenced here was taken from online surveys carried out with a representative sample of 712 UK SMEs throughout March 2021.