Brexit, COVID-19 threaten 250,000 small UK firms: Study

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More than one quarter of a million small British businesses face bankruptcy this year without more state help amid coronavirus and post-Brexit trade fallout, a study showed Monday.

“A record number of small business owners are planning to close their firms over the coming twelve months, putting the UK on course to lose more than a quarter of a million businesses,” the Federation of Small Businesses estimated after last month quizzing 1,401 firms on their outlooks.

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The FSB meanwhile said that Britain’s financial support measures in response to COVID-19 did not “keep pace” with tightening lockdown restrictions.

It added in its study that exporters were “feeling the strain as (the) new EU-UK trade deal beds in” following Britain’s recent exit from European Union single market and customs union.

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FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry called on the UK government look at how emergency debt facilities could help small businesses to survive.

And he urged the adoption of “transition vouchers” to help firms cope with uncertainty surrounding the Brexit trade deal that came into force on January 1.

“Our exporters are trying to get across what a new EU-UK trade agreement means for them without the cash they need to make adjustments,” Cherry said.

“Direct funding to help them manage new obligations in the form of transition vouchers is urgently needed.

“This government can stem losses and protect the businesses of the future – but only if it acts now,” he added.

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