Beyond lockdown: the road ahead for the UK's small businesses

What does the future look like for small businesses?

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10 May, parts of the UK have shifted into what feels like a new phase of lockdown.

As businesses start to reopen, or plan how they’re going to start up again in a few months’ time, many will need support to understand how the new measures affect them, and determine their way ahead under challenging economic conditions.

We’ve looked at how business owners on our sister site, UK Business Forums, are responding to the changes, and we’ve put together a report covering the main questions they’re asking.

This report includes:

  • Key topics of discussion and questions asked by small business owners since 10 May
  • How accountants can help their clients navigate changes to lockdown
  • Tips on creating relevant and useful content based on Government announcements.
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      About this report

      This report was created by Melissa Tredinnick who alongside her role at PracticeWeb, is the content editor for UK Business Forums (UKBF).

      How are small businesses responding to the changes to lockdown?

      In the past week, we’ve seen a shift in Government messaging around lockdown, as plans are made to restart the economy while at the same minimising the spread of COVID-19 and its effect on health services.

      On Sunday 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a conditional plan to start reopening society in phases.

      This started with loosening some lockdown restrictions and asking those who could not work from home to return to work from Wednesday 13 May. 

      For some businesses, that means setting up workplaces to allow for social distancing, and deciding how and when their staff should return. For many, it will require a completely new way of working, and long-term changes to their business model.

      The next steps, in which schools, some shops, and eventually some hospitality businesses will reopen in the coming months, are dependent on whether the UK meets its targets in preventing the spread of the virus.

      On UK Business Forums, as on other platforms, the changes were met with mixed reactions. 

      Many businesses had been desperate to see some kind of outline for the next few months, to get a picture of when they might resume operations, and to know where they will stand in terms of financial support.

      But there has also been confusion, and the situation for businesses is becoming increasingly complex as the Government aims to juggle the two priorities of public health and the economy.

      At the same time, recent figures from the Office for National Statistics have confirmed what was widely expected – that the economy has already taken a significant hit as a result of the coronavirus, with UK GDP falling in the first quarter of 2020 by 2%. 

      Many are now expecting a bigger economic contraction in the second quarter of the year, and users on UKBF have talked about how they and other small businesses might fare in a recession.

      In this report, we’ve summarised the main topics UKBF users have been talking about since Boris Johnson’s Sunday announcement, and the questions they’re asking.

      Using these insights, your accountancy firm has an opportunity to help businesses navigate the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.

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