Nucleus: 71% of SMEs call for furlough scheme extension
The majority (71%) of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have called for the furlough scheme to be extended beyond its current conclusion on 30 April 2021, according to data from Nucleus Commercial Finance.
The research found that 83% of larger businesses – those with between 50 and 249 employees – have called for the scheme to be extended.
More than a quarter (26%) of SME leaders say the scheme should be extended until the end of July, while 16% said until the end of October, 11% the end of the year, and a further 18% believe it should be extended until the UK population has been vaccinated.
Nearly half (45%) of SMEs currently have staff on furlough, and 14% are expected to make redundancies once furlough ends.
This is having a negative effect on business leaders’ mental health; those planning on making redundancies are feeling both stressed (43%) and anxious (42%).
However, 55% of SME leaders have not furloughed staff, and 13% plan to make new hires this year.
Chirag Shah, chief executive of Nucleus Commercial Finance said: “The furlough scheme has provided a lifeline to SMEs during a time of heightened uncertainty. Businesses have relied on the scheme to allow them to continue operating and prevent the UK from entering a major employment crisis.
“While the scheme cannot go on forever, an abrupt end could leave many SMEs struggling to survive, exacerbating the financial and mental health challenges many business owners are facing.
“As the return to normal is still a long way off for the majority, it’s vital the Chancellor listens to business owners and lays out a clear plan of action, so SMEs can look ahead to the coming months with some degree of certainty.”