Skip to main content

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, and Opinium, the strategic insight agency, have today published analysis of polling providing a snapshot of the experiences and expectations of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bright Blue and Opinium’s polling shows:

  • More than two in five (44%) businesses participating in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) reported that they will have to let some, more or all of their furloughed staff go when the scheme comes to a close.
  • Medium sized businesses, those with employees numbering 50-249, are most at risk of job cuts. Two-thirds (65%) of medium-sized businesses said they will have to initiate staff cuts when the scheme ends after October.
  • A majority (58%) of businesses have been topping up wages under the current CJRS so that workers receive 100% of their current pay. In contrast, a significant minority (29%) have not been topping up wages at all.
  • Nearly a quarter of businesses (24%) who are using the CJRS said they are not confident that they will be able to meet an increasing part of the wages for furloughed employees from August 2020.
  • 31% of businesses have already opened up, or have stayed opened up during lockdown, for staff to work from. Meanwhile, most businesses are planning to open their workplaces to staff to work from as soon as the rules allow (26%) or over the next six months (24%).
  • 40% of businesses say their business model will have to change permanently after the pandemic ends, while 34% expect that demand is unlikely to return to normal levels even after the pandemic ends.

James Endersby, CEO of Opinium Research, commented:

“The Government’s job retention scheme has provided critical life support for UK employment during the crisis this far, with 9.3 million people in the UK have been furloughed since 28 June. But as this week has demonstrated, the impact of Covid-19 on the UK economy has begun to hit home. Unfortunately, our research suggests that this could just be the beginning. With 44% of businesses expecting to cut jobs when the furlough scheme ends, the Government’s emergency budget is urgently needed. What’s clear is that support for medium-sized businesses and unemployed workers will be particularly important.”

Anvar Sarygulov, senior researcher at Bright Blue, commented:

“The Government has already implemented extraordinary measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. But a significant number of businesses lacks confidence in paying more wages for their furloughed staff and expect to let go at least some employees.

“Meanwhile, the threat of a resurgence continues to trouble businesses, with business leaders more likely to believe that demand for their trade will not return to normal for some time and that their business model is likely to be permanently changed. In the months ahead, the Government will have to effectively follow-up on current policies, to both contain the economic fallout from the crisis and to build the road to the recovery.”

The full data tables for the polling can be found here.