As the Government finalises its budget plans, a survey of small firms has indicated that a gap is emerging between businesses doing well and those facing significant threats from COVID-19 restrictions.
The Small Firms Association (SFA) survey found that 35% of its member feel that the business environment is improving, but 33% of firms think the outlook is weakening.
SFA director Sven Spollen-Behrens (pictured) said that although pandemic restrictions were identified as the biggest risk to business in the coming months, there were some positive responses to important questions in the survey.
It found that most firms intend to keep wages at their current levels or to award pay rises where the business performance allows.
A number, however, reported having to decrease working hours, pause or cancel recruitment and let staff go temporarily. 14% are considering lowering pay rates, compared with 1% in a similar survey this time last year.
61% of firms, however, said they intended to grow by investing in their brand, staff and ‘Brexit- proofing’ their organisations.