The Growth Company has revealed the first insights into the economic impact of coronavirus following an ongoing survey of Greater Manchester businesses.
The weekly rolling Growth Company Covid-19 Impact Survey provides a measure of the sentiment of almost 2,000 Greater Manchester companies to date, capturing a mix of resilience, optimism and concern among UK employers.
The Growth Company aims that its survey will provide vital intelligence to help firms to prepare for the economic recovery and growth that will follow the coronavirus crisis, and understand its impact.
Findings are reported to the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum and are already supporting the GC Business Growth Hub in delivering its Covid-19 #HereforBusiness campaign. The survey will also inform the thinking and insight of the new GC Consultancy division, which will share policy best practice with clients across the country.
In Stockport, 85% of businesses responding the survey indicate they have experienced some economic impact from the coronavirus crisis, with almost 70% reporting decreased sales. 56.6% of businesses in the borough have also made use of the government’s staff furlough scheme, with almost 70% of those businesses furloughing more than half of their workforce.
Stockport’s figures fall in line with the national picture. Income and cash are the biggest economic impact reported to the Growth Company, with the latest figures showing over three quarters (76%) of those impacted experiencing a decline in sales due to coronavirus and almost 40% have resulting cash-flow problems. However, Just under two-fifths (39%) of businesses are seeking some form of government loan or grant support, and correspondingly – in terms of support requested by businesses, over 50% of businesses to date (43% in the last week) are seeking financial support/advice, and rising numbers of firms are seeking support for business planning (up to 43% of firms this week).
Despite severe impacts, the Growth Company’s coronavirus survey reveals business resilience to the economic effects:
- Very few businesses are reporting they have, or plan to make redundancies. Less than 3% of all respondents said they had made redundancies, but with a further 15% in the last week said they are likely to have this issue on their future agenda.
- Alongside major challenges facing business, some firms have reported rising sales. 7% of firms in the last week reported growth, this has remained at the same level since the initial survey week. This would suggest a steady core of firms experiencing some form of growth/rising sales.
- By sector, more than 20% of businesses in Life Sciences, and over 25% in Agriculture have experienced increasing sales, along with Education (15%), and Manufacturing (10%).
Alongside providing advice and support, the Growth Company is supporting businesses by signposting the financial support available, including the £3m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for Greater Manchester administered by GC Business Finance and the £629m in grants available from Local Authorities in Greater Manchester. Its Employ GM campaign with GMCA and delivery partners is helping to connect employers and people looking for work.
Mark Hughes, Chief Executive of the Growth Company, said:
The purpose of our #HereForBusiness campaign is to ensure that we are offering the support and advice companies need to continue operating safely and safeguard future jobs.
“We are now also starting to plan support for the businesses who will lead our economic recovery and it is heartening to see that their remains significant optimism among survey respondents.
“The depth of our relationship with the business community, combined with our skills and experience, means that we are perfectly placed to guide companies through this crisis and into economic recovery
“The results of our rolling survey provide reasons for both optimism and concern, but we are now at least armed with information to support our efforts on behalf of employers. We are ready to share the benefits of our insight, expertise and skills with partners and colleagues as we prepare for economic recovery and growth.”