Half of Sussex small businesses report 50 per cent revenue drop

A recent survey has revealed more than half of Sussex small businesses have seen revenue reduced by over 50 per cent during the coronovirus pandemic.

Freedom Works' Jon Trigg. Picture: Martin Bloomfield
Freedom Works' Jon Trigg. Picture: Martin Bloomfield

The survey of 350 small businesses across the county was created through a partnership between co-working providers Rume2 and Freedom Works, in partnership with West Sussex County Council Coast2Capital.

The results are now being used to lobby the government directly for more support.

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The results showed 58 per cent had seen a reduction of over 50 per cent of their income as a direct result of Covid-19, with a shocking 26 per cent experiencing a decline of over 90 per cent.

The survey also looked at how much government support was reaching grass-roots businesses in Sussex.

The survey found only 13 per cent of small businesses had been able to access the Small Business Grant Fund, as many are working in shared workspaces or as remote teams. In addition, as 84 pre cent had fewer than five employees, use of the Job Retention Scheme had been limited, with a quarter of businesses taking it up.

The general outlook for small business in Sussex was bleak, with 19 per cent stating they were unlikely to survive the year.

Freedom Works’ Jon Trigg said: “Support is needed, but this is not just on funding or grants. The business community needs to support each other to help us rebuild.

“We have already seen how collaboration is enabling businesses to adapt during lockdown, but now more than ever we really need the business community to support each other by ensuring any spend is kept within the local economy.”

Rosie Freshwater, of Chichester-based Rume2, said: “The knock-on effect of the lockdown has reverberated through the Sussex business community on every level. Sussex is known for its concentration of entrepreneurial micro and small businesses and to hear from the horse’s mouth just how many of those businesses are affected, no matter what industry, is worrying.”

Fiona Shafer, of Mid Sussex-based MDHub, said: “As a matter of urgency, our Government needs to prioritise the clarity of its communications on how to access the financial support made available to all business – but in particular the SME sector, which is the true backbone of the British economy.”

Julia Grant of Design Collective Chichester said: “We know from our members that many fall within the gaps of the current support on offer from the government and some are really struggling.

“Whilst those creative freelancers that in the short-term will benefit from the self-employment grant, in the long-term will face significant challenges as they are reliant on small/medium enterprises for work. The lack of long-term support at every level simply delays the impact on these creative professionals and weakens the creative industry as a whole.”

Businesses and groups involved in the facilitation of the survey were: Freedom Works; Rume2; Platf9rm; FreshMill; West Sussex County Council, Chichester District Council; Coast 2 Capital; Brighton Chamber of Commerce; Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce; Chichester Chamber of Commerce; Federation of Small Business; MDHub; Design Collective Chichester; Last Friday Club; Gatwick Diamond Business Group and BNI Sussex.

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