Monday 29 June 2020 11:50 am

Coronavirus: Almost half of UK businesses expect they will have to lay off employees

Save our SMEs

Almost half of UK businesses expect that the coronavirus crisis will force them to lay off employees.

A new survey from YouGov revealed that 42 per cent of UK businesses expect they will have fewer employees in a year’s time compared to before the coronavirus lockdown.

Read more: Boris Johnson doubles down on spending plans after coronavirus ‘disaster’

This compares to just 16 per cent of people who expect to employ more people in a year’s time than prior to the Covid lockdown.

Sectors most likely to say they will employ less staff are manufacturing, media/marketing and financial services.

The new survey also found that 47 per cent of businesses have lower growth expectations, while 15 per cent have higher growth expectations.

Oliver Rowe, director of reputation and business research at YouGov, said: “But while these are clearly difficult times for business, some will undoubtedly use this opportunity to reassess their current model and adapt to the new environment.

“Lots of businesses already say they will have less need for physical space, as staff working from home becomes more accepted, and almost half expect to make more use of online systems and software than they did prior to lockdown.”

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to lay out his government’s plans for an infrastructure and jobs programme to combat the Covid economic downturn.

Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data

Speaking to Times Radio today, Johnson said he would take a “Rooseveltian approach” to recovery.

Franklin Roosevelt’s unprecedented New Deal saw vastly expanded public spending while he was US President during the Great Depression.

“[Coronavirus] has been a disaster,” Johnson said.

“Let’s not mince our words, I mean this has been an absolute nightmare for the country and the country has gone through a profound shock.

“But in those moments you have the opportunity to change and to do things better. We really want to build back better, to do things differently, to invest in infrastructure, transport, broadband – you name it.”

Read more: UK debt office plans record bond sales to help struggling economy recover

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government had not done enough to protect UK businesses from job losses.

“It’s staggering that in light of the economic crisis that is about to descend upon us that we are not having a July budget that puts jobs at the centre of economic recovery,” he said.