Nearly half of Britain’s 5.9 million small firms expect to cut jobs by the time the furlough scheme ends as they brace for Brexit to compound coronavirus woes, according to a survey.
A report by software company Sage has suggested that 45% of small businesses are planning to make further redundancies before furlough support comes to a close in March – and 20% will axe jobs as soon as this month.
One in three firms surveyed from the retail sector warned over job losses, but this rose to one in two for those in financial services and healthcare.
With the year-end Brexit deadline looming large, the study showed the strain small firms are already under from the coronavirus crisis as more than half – 53% – continue to operate at a loss.
Sage is calling for extra support for the small business sector, with Christmas not expected to provide the usual end-of-year boost and Brexit just around the corner.
Its report found 47% expect to see revenues remain the same for December, while more than a fifth – 21% – of the 662 small business leaders polled forecast a decline year-on-year.
In a further sign of the strain the EU withdrawal is placing on the embattled small business sector, a separate report signals that nearly half (47%) fear they will not be able to comply with regulations after Brexit.
The survey of 1,200 small firms by Harper James Solicitors also found that more than a third (37%) worry over access to cash once Britain leaves the EU and 16% fret about staff recruitment being impacted following the split.
Toby Harper, chief executive of Harper James Solicitors, said: “Businesses hate uncertainty.
“And the overwhelming view of the clients we support is they fear not being able to comply with the myriad of new regulations which could be coming down the line.
“The Government must therefore provide clear and effective advice to ensure businesses can best prepare for another huge challenge – in a year which has seen the pandemic push so many to the brink.”