Survey: NI SMEs don't expect to recover from Covid until May 2022

Susan Davies, head of business banking at Santander UK

SMEs in Northern Ireland which have suffered due to Covid-19 don’t expect to recover to pre-pandemic levels until at least May 2022, a survey says.

And 18 per cent of those small firms fear they will simply not survive the pandemic, according to research from Santander UK. That's more than twice the UK average of 8 per cent.

Almost half (44 per cent) say they've been performing ‘badly’ since the outbreak last March, with respondents seeing their profits slump by 15.8 per cent on average.

And mental health issues are a growing concern for small business owners, with three in 10 of those running their own business here reported a decline and 14 per cent of respondents are unsure whether they want to continue running their business as a result of the impact on their mental health.

Susan Davies, head of business banking at Santander UK, said: “Small businesses have proven their resilience, and their hunger to survive and thrive is palpable. But 2021 will be a crunch year for many, with much riding on a successful vaccine roll-out.

“While there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution, extensions to VAT deferrals, the furlough scheme and business rates relief could provide businesses with additional breathing space.

“We have been working tirelessly to support small business owners throughout the pandemic - from online workshops, e-commerce training and mental health support – and we will continue to help them find solutions to the huge challenges they are currently facing.”

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