Job loss fears as North braced for new Lockdown

More than half of finance directors in Yorkshire expect to make Covid-related redundancies with as many as nine in ten braved for a second lockdown.

A survey of more than 60 has gathered new data highlighting the extent of the impact of the global pandemic on the region’s businesses.

The survey was conducted by specialist recruiter Woodrow Mercer Finance who polled finance heads about how the recent lockdown had impacted their firms.

Of the 61 respondents, 43 per cent expected to escape without redundancies, whilst 35 per cent anticipated laying off up to 10 of their workforce. 

Two thirds indicated that they expected 2020 revenues to be either significantly below or simply below target by the end of the year, with only one in ten expecting revenues ahead of projections for the year.

In total, 87 per cent believed that a second lockdown was likely in late 2020 or early 2021, and 31 per cent of businesses were planning to reduce their expenditure on property when their current obligations came to an end.

The silver lining for the economy is that we’ve adapted to working effectively from home and we might well see quality of life benefits as a result

James Roach

“The vast majority of Yorkshire businesses haven’t seen much bad debt to date, which is obviously good, and, thankfully, three quarters of the FDs we surveyed think that less than one in ten of all businesses will fail in the recession,” said James Roach, managing partner.

“Finding the positives in the results isn’t easy though, and there is a general feeling that we haven’t seen the end of the disruption from the pandemic. On the brighter side, over 79 per cent of businesses say employees have been able to work effectively under Lockdown, and 75 per cent are planning to adopt new working practices as a result of the forced change since March.”

Job seekers will have to get used to changes in future hiring processes too, with increased vetting of CVs and background checks by almost a quarter of firms. A keener focus on candidates who could demonstrate self-motivation and organisational skills was cited by 59 per cent and one in ten firms increasing the use of recruitment professionals to improve their new remote hiring processes.

Almost nine out of 10 of the FDs said that they had taken advantage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with a further 18 per cent having applied for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans. One in five had also received a Bounce Back Loan.

“It is clear that Yorkshire firms have taken advantage of the Government relief schemes, and that has helped mitigate the level of redundancies so far. But with 59 per cent of FDs cutting non-essential spending, and over 83 per cent seeing reduced spend from customers, we know that we haven’t yet seen the full impact of the shock to the economy caused by the pandemic,” said Mr Roach.

“The silver lining for the economy is that we’ve adapted to working effectively from home and we might well see quality of life benefits as a result, as well as the environmental and efficiency boosts that reduced commuting has given us.

“That said, it comes at a huge cost and most businesses are bracing for a second Lockdown. This could deliver the knockout blow for many businesses that have weathered the storm with Government support, but which may be less available in the event of a repeat lockdown.”