NEWS29 April 2020

Small business loans may not be enough to support industry, says MRS

Covid-19 News UK

UK – The Market Research Society’s chief executive has welcomed the introduction of ‘bounce back loans’ for small businesses but says the move may not be enough to mitigate the challenges faced by the research industry as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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'Bounce back loans’ will allow small businesses to borrow up to £50,000 with a 100% government-backed guarantee. The scheme will open for applications on Monday 4th May.

The MRS and several other membership organisations previously wrote to the chancellor to request better financial support for small businesses and self-employed people, including easier access to Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBIL).

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS, said: "The announcement of bounce back loans will provide some relief to the small and medium-sized businesses that make up most of the market and social research sector, and we are encouraged that the government has listened to our calls for additional support." 

However, Frost added: "We remain concerned it will not be enough to mitigate the challenges that our members are facing, as they grow increasingly concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their livelihoods, and in turn their ability to support their families. Social distancing measures have had a profound impact on key aspects of our profession in the same way it has those working in hospitality and leisure, but ours, like many others providing critical services within our economy, has been largely forgotten."

Improved access to the Job Retention and Self-Employed Income Support Schemes is needed to reduce the number of people "falling through the cracks", Frost said, as well as "more clarity" over when businesses will be able to resume practices involving face-to-face interaction such as fieldwork. 

Frost also reiterated the MRS’ call to government to extend its business rates relief, saying: "Many of our members continue to pay full rents on business premises which are not useable due to the lockdown and we urge the government to reconsider its current system of rate relief, which only extends to retail, hospitality and leisure sectors."

Chris Combemale, chief executive at the Data & Marketing Association, also welcomed the bounce back loans scheme: "This is a welcome addition to the support offered by the government. Businesses have been in need of a simple loan with complete government backing, and the bounce back loan will provide thousands of small businesses with the means to keep themselves afloat.

"The simplicity of the process of accessing the loan is hugely important. The DMA would like to see this quick form extended to the CBIL Scheme, even if the government cannot offer 100% guarantees for larger loans."

Coronavirus resources for the research sector can be found on the MRS website