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Just six in ten businesses are aware of government support schemes

Max McEwan Senior Consultant 20/04/2020

Surprisingly few businesses say they are aware of the government’s flagship schemes to keep down employment during the coronavirus.

Awareness of government action in general is high but recall of specific initiatives is markedly lower.

Six in ten (60%) businesses are aware of the Job Retention Scheme, which pays up to 80% of staff salaries, and a similar proportion (61%) are aware of the equivalent scheme for the self-employed (Self-employment Income Support Scheme).

Awareness of government action aimed at lessening the impact of coronavirus on businesses in general is high (95%) but recall of specific initiatives is markedly lower. Indeed, just half (51%) of businesses are aware of the initiative to defer VAT and Income Tax payments, and two in five (40%) are aware of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Most worryingly, we included an initiative that does not exist – a corporation tax holiday for all businesses – amongst other government initiatives. The aim of this was to test the extent to which businesses actually recall specific measures. A third (34%) of businesses say they are aware of the corporation tax holiday for all business, a government initiative that does not exist.

Indeed, this research suggests that, whilst businesses know that the government is doing something support businesses, they are unsure of the specific measures in place.

This is completely understandable. Many businesses are experiencing significant disruption, with key staff absorbed in the day-to-day challenges of running a business during a pandemic. Further, whilst viewing figures for daily briefings were high when the lockdown began, these have dropped recently, and government communication reinforcing support for businesses can be lost in the tide of information regarding coronavirus.

Recall of initiatives aimed at specific business audiences is higher. For example, eight in ten (84%) sole traders are aware of the self-employment Income Support Scheme, and just under half (45%) of medium and large businesses are aware of the Bank of England lending facility that aims to support liquidity among larger firms.

However, this research highlights the difficulty of communicating technical information, particularly within the context of a deluge of information on a topic, and to a time poor audience.

The statistics in this post are taken from Savanta’s Covid-19 bi-weekly business tracker. Get in touch for more information or to add your own questions.

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