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New polling from Metro Bank suggests stormy waters ahead for some UK SMEs

29th June 2021
  • Research from the community bank shows that only four in 10 (39%) SMEs have witnessed an increase in revenue since the easing of lockdown on 17 May
  • With the Government’s 100% business rate relief ending today, many small businesses are calling for an extension to the deadline

Today, the Government’s 100% business rate relief reduces to 66%, yet new polling indicates that almost half (46%) of UK small business owners say they can’t afford to contribute anything towards business rates after this period. Just four in 10 (39%) SMEs have experienced any increase in their revenues since the easing of some lockdown restrictions in mid-May. In fact, nearly one in five (18%) SMEs have actually seen a drop in their revenues since that time according to the research, which was commissioned by Metro Bank and conducted by Research Without Barriers1.

Nearly a third of SMEs (32%) in total have benefitted from the business rate holiday, equivalent to nearly two million small businesses across the UK2. The polling also reveals that of those SMEs which benefited, seven in 10 (71%) said that it allowed them to keep their businesses running.

Nonetheless, the polling unearths some encouraging green shoots of recovery. One in eight (12%) of the SMEs surveyed were started after March 2020, with the main drivers of this being spotting an opportunity and having more free time. This increase was predominately seen in small businesses that specialised in healthcare, manufacturing and utilities.

Jo MacDonald, Director of Bank Accounts at Metro Bank, comments: “This latest polling shows us that a significant number of our country’s small businesses are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic. Many of them require patient and tailored financial support in order to keep trading in the current environment. We should never underestimate the value of human relationships in banking. People value other people, and as businesses in the UK recover after what’s been a really tough period, that’s arguably more important now than ever before.”

Notes to editors

1The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB. All surveys were conducted between 26th May 2021 and 8th June 2021. The sample comprised 1,001 UK SME business owners. All research conducted adheres to the UK Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2019). RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (1998).