It’s hard to believe the official UK lockdown is just a week old. In the last seven days, and the period running up to it, life and business for all of us have changed unrecognisably. With hundreds of billions already pledged by the UK Government to support employers and employees, we asked the UK’s tech scaleups what kind of impact these measures will have for them, and what more could be done to protect and support a thriving tech industry, that by any metric is third in the world, behind just the US and China.
Of 116 scaling tech companies based right across the UK who answered our questions on the challenges facing their businesses during the early stages of the Coronavirus crisis, 77% reported that they expected cashflow to be impacted by recent events. 80% of companies said they expected securing new customers to become a challenge, with 40% of companies saying they planned to lay off staff.
These figures while dramatic in themselves, also cause concern when compared to the answers given just a week earlier in our previous survey. Companies considering laying off staff rose from 15% in the first survey to 40% a week later. And concern over new customer acquisition rose to 80% this week from 44% the week before.
In terms of preferred solution tactics for the government to take, 46% of the companies surveyed would like the Government to provide loans, while 88% of companies wanted the Government to provide grants to help with cashflow constraints.
The companies surveyed vary from the Bootstrapped to Series B+ venture-backed companies, with headcounts from single figures, up to 500+. 39% of those surveyed identified as startup or early stage, with 56% identifying as scaleup or mid stage, and 6% at late-stage growth.
The Government’s initial business support initiatives proved generally popular, with 60% of companies planning to access loan and/or job retention schemes. Of those companies, 57% plan to access a loan scheme, with 78% of companies planning to access the job retention scheme.
But while we don’t see much variation in approach geographically (with 53% of respondents based outside of London), we do see large differences in responses by company growth stage. Of the companies surveyed, startups are much less likely to apply for the Government’s business support schemes than more established scaleups. 53% of startups do not intend to access loans or the employee retention scheme, as opposed to just 26% of scaleups.
There are large and clear discrepancies here, and these results and sentiment are being fed directly back into government. A number of active policy proposals are in discussion to bridge any support gaps in the UK tech ecosystem
Orla Browne, Content Editor, Tech Nation
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