Survey shows almost half of Chelmsford businesses in crisis

Almost 50 per cent of Chelmsford businesses that responded to a Covid-19 impact survey say they are in crisis.

Just over half of the 416 businesses responding to the Chelmsford City Council survey say they are currently ‘surviving’ but 43 per cent said their businesses are in ‘crisis’.

Many are pessimistic about their prospects of recovery over the next 12 months, with 45 per cent unsure whether they will still be operating in a year’s time.

Around 2.5 per cent say they expect to be gone within a year.

The council carried out the survey to get a detailed understanding of the challenges faced by local businesses so that effective support can continue to be made available.

More than half of businesses have already used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a similar number have reported making use of a Small Business Grant.

Access to information, financial advice and short and longer-term capital are among the key things companies say they will need in the future.

Councillor Martin Bracken, Cabinet Deputy for the Economy and Small Business, said this information will be crucial in designing help to keep small firms going.

“So many of our Chelmsford businesses, like others all over the country, are fighting for survival and we must do everything we can to help,” he said.

“We’re grateful to the hundreds of firms that have completed our survey and the council has already been in touch with respondents to help them find appropriate advice and support.

“We will share the results of this survey with our business support partners like BEST Growth Hub and Back to Business Essex so they too can learn from these important findings.”

More than 93 per cent of respondents said the pandemic has negatively affected their business. Overwhelmingly, those affected say they have lost income and nearly two thirds have reported cash flow problems.

More than a third of this group say they face the threat of having to lay off staff.

Chelmsford City Council is using the results of the survey to help inform the council’s forthcoming economic renewal plan.

The council’s economic development team is also utilising the survey to signpost businesses to resources to help businesses move online and make better use of technology.

More information for businesses can be found at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/business/

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter