6 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up 99.9% of the total UK Businesses. 5.94 million of these are small businesses employing 13.3 million people at the start of 2020 – contributing £1.6 trillion (36%) to the UK economy.
540,000 SMEs are wholesale and retail, and repair businesses. That is 9% of total SMEs and is the 3rd largest sector after construction (25%) and science and technical (15%). 9% is a significant contribution to society and yet most of these businesses have been cast off by the government as ‘non-essential’. 1 in 5 small businesses have received no financial support from the government because they do not meet the prerequisite criteria. In a time when all-inclusivity of race, sexuality, gender and sustainability are all constantly attempting to be pushed down to the forefronts of our minds, why does the all-inclusivity of everyone’s livelihoods not matter?
Most of these businesses have been cast off by the government as ‘non-essential’.
What about Furlough? Despite being extended, since August 2020, requirements to continue Employers National Insurance contributions, pension contributions and accrual for employees’ holidays eat into over 20% of the furlough payment. The remainder barely covers the rent.
Throughout last year and into 2021, small businesses are faced with the fraught dilemma on whether to keep employees in a job or to save what remains of their business by letting them go. It seems that Sunak’s scheme is merely a sticking plaster to the tsunami of unemployment about to hit the UK’s shores, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
In a time when all-inclusivity of race, sexuality, gender and sustainability are all constantly attempting to be pushed down to the forefronts of our minds, why does the all-inclusivity of everyone’s livelihoods not matter?
What can small businesses do when jammed between a rock and a hard place? Small businesses have accommodated the recommended safety measures and have opened up previously, so why not now? It might be that small businesses may soon be left with no other option than to open up.
On Saturday 30th January 2021, as part of the Great Reopening; one gift shop – Neanie Scott – opened in Edinburgh at 12pm. Within 10 minutes, 4 Police Scotland officers were inside the shop with the intention of closing it down in supposed breach of coronavirus regulations. The owner had opened it on the back of her liquor licence. A shop not dissimilar to a newsagent or The Co-operative being allowed to sell alcohol, but also allowed to sell non-essential items like a chocolate bar or a magazine.
One of the customers in the shop videoed the incident, which has since gone viral on social media because of the simple truth Katherine tells these officers. Katherine was magnificent and Neanie Scott remains open.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the community. You provide essential human interaction. You are havens of the simple generosity, the kindness, the warmth of the human spirit. You keep people on their feet in their times of need. If you cannot help, you know someone who can. You make people smile, forget their worries. You allow for a sound-off or provide a solution to a problem. You provide routine, you provide something to look forward to. You provide an essential service.
Big corporations cannot do that for us. The government cannot do that for us. In these desperate times of need, we need small businesses. We need you.
Your business provides you with the essential requirements to your livelihood. It provides you with an essential income. It allows for you to have a roof over your head, put food on the table, provide for your family. It provides you with your purpose, your joie de vivre. How many more essential reasons can I give you? You need you.
“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”
Katherine faced her fears and overcame them. Will you join her? After all, we are the 99.9% that need to put the UK back on its feet.
Find out more here: www.the-great-reopening.com
*Figures researched from the Federation of Small Businesses website on 8th February 2021. https://www.fsb.org.uk