Survey Shows optimism from SME’s
According to the Barclaycard Payments Barometer, UK SMEs could expect an average 8% growth in revenues for 2021. Perhaps surprisingly, the survey also found that almost 25% have exceeded pre-pandemic levels of output. There were more sobering results from the survey however in that only 3 in 10 SME’s surveys said they were prepared for the easing of the latest lockdown measures.
Some insight on the property sector
Having spoken with a number of our contacts within the banking sector, specifically focusing on real estate and property, we gleaned a number of interesting insights on how the sector is currently faring. One Relationship Director told us that whilst they were busy, it wasn’t the conventional ‘busy’ they would normally see. In particular credit decisions are taking longer and we were informed there is much ‘re-arranging and checking who is exposed to the tricky sectors’. One area that does seem to be busy currently is the re-financing of property portfolio’s to corporate entity. There is ‘quite a bit of development’ however this seems to be restricted to existing sites as opposed to new ones and whilst the industrial area of the sector is active, office and retail is understandably difficult. To finish, we were also told that whilst the housing market is ‘good’, the flat market may be adjusted.
Online Service launched for VAT deferral payment scheme
Some 500,000 businesses who deferred their VAT Payments last year are now able to access the recently launched online VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme. The scheme will allow businesses to pay in smaller monthly instalments and in order to benefit from the new payment scheme businesses are required to have deferred VAT payments between March and June 2020. These businesses will now be afforded the option to pay their deferred VAT in ‘equal consecutive monthly instalments’ from March 2021. The new scheme however will need to be opted-in to and this can be done via the online service that opened on 23rd February 2021. The closing date for this scheme will be 21 June 2021.
Digital Banks proving increasingly popular with SMEs
Payment specialist Marqeta this month released research showing some smaller UK businesses have lost faith in the bigger high street banks and are increasingly turning to digital challenger banks and fintechs. The survey showed that 84% of SMEs were frustrated with their current banking experience with an overwhelming 9 in ten calling for more digital services. Some of the causes of these frustrations seem to be the inflexible credit offerings from high street banks and the lengthy waiting times for lending decisions being made. To further compound this, 67% of those surveyed were considering switching their business bank account provider.
Downsized office operations planned for 1 in 3 small businesses
Research conducted by Accounting giant Grant Thornton this month revealed as many as 1 in 3 small businesses intend to reduce or downsize their office space as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. The research goes on to show 74% anticipate decreasing their current facilities by as much as 25% with a further 12% looking to reduce their existing footprint by up to 50%. We’ve certainly had conversations with a number of our clients who are considering following suit.
As always, good luck with everything, stay safe and if we can help in any way we’re happy to do so.
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*Sources: City AM, Gov.uk, NACFB.