·      New research reveals three quarters of the UK’s smallest businesses are worried about their ability to survive

·      1 in 6 fear they may have just an average of 9 weeks to stay afloat

·       A fifth have borrowed money from friends and family to cope with the crisis

Tens of thousands of Britain’s smallest businesses fear that, despite the easing of lockdown, they are just weeks away from going bust, according to research released by Smart Energy GB today.

There are an estimated 5.6 million microbusinesses – companies employing fewer than 10 staff – in the UK, accounting for 96% of all businesses.

These companies have endured an incredibly tough time since lockdown began, with just under half (46%) already having thought about closing their doors permanently because of the effects of COVID-19.

A lack of footfall (69%), cash flow issues (47%), and worries that consumer confidence will not return quickly enough (46%) are their main concerns about survival.

While microbusiness owners have reached out for a helping hand – whether that’s through applying for a government grant (40%), furloughing staff (28%) or taking out a business loan (21%) – they have also  dipped into personal savings (31%) and borrowed from friends and family (18%) to keep on trading.

Given these tough times, it is little wonder that daily scrutiny over cash flow is greater than ever, rising from 11% to 33% since mid-March. Yet despite this laser-like approach, many owners admitted they still estimate their energy costs – despite 56% agreeing a better understanding of their energy use would give them greater control over their business expenditure. In fact, energy is the second most common costs that microbusiness owners estimate, only behind tax.