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A third of small businesses say pandemic support was unhelpful

Out of the 1,451 businesses surveyed by the FSB, 237 reported not receiving any support since the start of the pandemic

A third (33%) of small businesses have said support and advice offered by the government and trade associations during the pandemic was unhelpful.

That's according to a new report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which measured the impact of business support advice in the face of the UK’s lockdown restrictions.

Out of the 1,451 businesses surveyed by the FSB, 237 (16%) reported that they had not received any business support or advice since the start of the pandemic. Of these firms, the overwhelming majority (95%) were microbusinesses with no employed staff other than the owner.

Commenting on the findings, FSB national vice chair Martin McTague said that accessing “the right support at the right time can be tricky” – even in normal times.

“We’ve endured almost 18 months of this terrible pandemic which has wreaked economic chaos for small businesses all over the country. That’s why the support and advice available to them has never been more important. If small firms are to compete on fair terms with larger businesses, if regions are to step out of the shadows and if all businesses can thrive after the pandemic, then an element of levelling up is critical to success,” he said.

McTague also called for MPs to do more to facilitate the economic recovery for small businesses. According to him, the UK government “needs to simplify and streamline how and where small firms can access critical business support advice, building on what currently works”.

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“It should also ensure that the level of funding for business support via UK Shared Prosperity Fund matches, or exceeds, those funds previously received under European Structural and Investment funding,” he said, adding: “If the right advice can be accessible to all, then small businesses can thrive, our economy can bounce back and everyone benefits.”

Although one in three small firms said that the pandemic support was unhelpful, 45% reported the contrary, saying that the support they had received helped their business survive the pandemic.

A further 15% indicated that it helped them improve employee support, while some small businesses reported becoming more innovative (6%), more productive (5%), and experiencing growth (5%) thanks to the business support they had received.

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