Small businesses in the UK said that they have had to change the direction of their organisations to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
A year on from the start of the first official national lockdown and with the country currently slowly exiting the third one, the impact of the pandemic has been laid bare by a survey on how the events of the past year have affected small business owners.
According to research by UK-based payments provider, SumUp, 51% of small businesses have changed their operations in some way over the past year, including introducing remote payment options, gift cards and online stores.
Additionally, 5% of small businesses in the UK have “completely pivoted” their business in the last 12 months, as a consequence of the pandemic.
While 98% of small business owners said that they have been in some way affected by COVID-19, almost three quarters (71%) said they have been forced to temporarily shut during the last twelve months.
Over a fifth (22%) reported a sharp drop in sales (over a third) during the coronavirus crisis.
Of the 2,800 businesses surveyed, 66% of small business owners said they have applied for financial support from the government, 11% of applicants said they have not received any financial support. Meanwhile, 73% feel that they did not receive enough financial support to cover their losses.
On the changes, 62% of small businesses owners said they feel that offering cashless payments has helped to improve business.
It comes as a separate study by Merchant Machine. showed that coins and banknotes could disappear from the UK by 2026 as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated “the journey to a cashless society.”
New COVID-19 measures meant that retailers and shoppers across the country have been opting for card payments or and e-wallets over cash during the pandemic, to limit contact and curb transmissions of the virus. As a result, cash usage fell by 38.1% between 2000-2020, with the UK predicted to be cashless by 2026.
Looking ahead, 35% of respondents feel that they need more financial support in the coming months, 10% said they need more information or education on strategies to cope, 8% said they need support in the digitisation of their business.
Or Perlman, UK country lead at SumUp, said: “Many business owners are experiencing an incredibly difficult and frustrating time, where they feel the support from their local customers is not mirrored by the government.”
Perlman said that by “adapting to these difficult circumstances, which have ranged anywhere from moving the business premises to adopting an e-commerce model, introducing new safety measures, to completely changing their business” — small businesses are continuing to endure the crisis while the changes allow them to keep things ticking over, until they can fully reopen again.
WATCH: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?
Qatar orders arrest of finance minister
Qatar’s public prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the finance minister to question him over alleged abuse of power and misuse of public funds in the energy-rich state.
The Qatar News Agency did not provide other details about the investigation, and the nature of the case against Ali Sharif al-Emadi, who has served finance minister since 2013, was not immediately clear.
Al-Emadi rose to prominence in the Gulf Arab emirate of Qatar after overseeing the growth of Qatar National Bank for years.
The statement said authorities were investigating reported crimes related to his public role. Arrests of such a high-ranking officials on suspicion of corruption are rare in Qatar.
Corruption remains rampant in Gulf Arab sheikhdoms flush with petrodollars and in the wider Middle East.
In its 2020 corruption perceptions index, which surveys economic experts about the perceived level of public sector corruption, corruption watchdog Transparency International listed Qatar among the least corrupt in the region, with a score of 63 out of 100.
The scale ranks countries between zero, which is “highly corrupt,” and 100, for “very clean.”
ANZIIF Australian Industry Awards returns – submissions now open
The annual event acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals and businesses and recognises talents in the Australian insurance sector.
Submissions in 17 categories are now open, with the judging panel seeking individuals and organisations that can showcase how they have supported their customers, community, and their employees over the last year.
“We are overjoyed to see the return of the industry’s night of nights, following a year without physical events. The Australian insurance awards hold great significance for industry as they provide a platform for us to come together and celebrate the achievements and positive impact we have on our people and community,” said ANZIIF chief executive officer Prue Willsford.
This year, ANZIIIF tweaked its general insurance categories – including categories for small, medium, and large general insurance companies with criteria focused on customer outcomes. It also revised the broking and authorised representative (AR) categories, with AR companies now eligible to enter the broking categories.
The Australian Insurance Industry Awards categories for 2021 are:
- Small Broking Company of the Year
- Medium Broking Company of the Year
- Large Broking Company of the Year
- Authorised Representative Network of the Year
- Underwriting Agency of the Year
- Small General Insurance Company of the Year
- Medium General Insurance Company of the Year
- Large General Insurance Company of the Year
- Life Insurance Company of the Year
- Insurtech Program of the Year
- Professional Services Firm of the Year
- Service Provider to the Insurance Industry
- Excellence in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
- Insurance Learning Program of the Year
- Young Insurance Professional of the Year
- Insurance Leader of the Year
- ANZIIF Lifetime Achievement Award
Submissions close on July 02, 2021.