Three times as many Lincolnshire businesses fear future COVID lockdown measures more than the impact of Brexit, according to new research by a local law firm.
Lincoln-based Langleys Solicitors conducted the research of 250 UK business owners and directors for its ‘Back to Business’ report that will be published this month.
With the nation currently in lockdown due to coronavirus, survey participants were asked to score a variety of business challenges from one to 10 (lowest to highest concern).
Business in Lincolnshire scored the future threat of pandemic measures at 7.2 out of 10 compared to 6.9 for Brexit.
Concern for future pandemic restrictions was scored 10 by twice as many business owners and directors than Brexit – 18.2% compared to 9.1% – despite support measures such as the extended furlough scheme.
Senior leaders felt that the coronavirus crisis presented a bigger task in the next five years of business than increased regulation (6.6), the challenge of exporting (5.9) and increased competition (6.2).
Some 64% of respondents in Lincolnshire said that a prolonged second and third wave, and subsequent lockdown, is a larger risk to their businesses than Brexit in the next 12 months.
Some 41% of the survey respondents in the area are considering redundancies, while 27% now have fewer staff than pre-lockdown.
The research also found that 55% of businesses in the area have experienced decreased customer demand due to coronavirus and lockdown restrictions.
It is therefore unsurprisingly to see that 68% of businesses in the county have had to change their business model as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. This is higher than the national average of 58%.
Nationally, 20% of businesses reported future pandemic measures as their biggest challenge rather than 7% who said Brexit.
Tim Cross, managing partner at Langleys Solicitors said: “Brexit and coronavirus made 2020 a very difficult year for businesses and their owners and, as lockdowns continue to tighten, businesses under tier 3 and 4 regulations could be facing their worst fears once again.
“Business owners and leaders in Lincolnshire have reported disproportional troubles, with more businesses in the area facing decreased customer demands and business models changes than the national average.
“Sadly, 41% of our survey respondents in the area are considering redundancies and the news of a new virus strain and the introduction of stricter tiered measures are likely to turn these considerations into difficult decisions for business owners.”