Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  

 

Highlands And Islands Business Survey Captures Pandemic Impacts

4th August 2020

Photograph of Highlands And Islands Business Survey Captures Pandemic Impacts

The Business Panel survey was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and carried out in June. This wave of the survey focused on impacts of and responses to the pandemic.

It showed that 79% of respondents reported their confidence in the economic outlook in Scotland had decreased in the past six months. This is the most marked decline in the 16 business panel surveys HIE has commissioned since 2014.

Disruption to trade, decline in sales, loss of income, and furloughed employees were reported as some of the main impacts of covid-19. Overall, 85% reported they had experienced a decline (61%) or no sales at all (24%), while a very small proportion (4%) reported an increase in trade.

Nearly half (49%) of firms had been able to continue operating throughout the lockdown and a further 12% had reopened after closing initially.

Businesses that continued trading did things differently in order to do so. Making processes more efficient (50%), exploring new domestic/UK markets (48%) and improving competitiveness (44%) were the most frequently reported actions taken.

Others include collaboration, changing products or services and moving products and services online.

Of those who continued or had restarted trading, 65% said business was below the pre-covid level, 26% much the same and 8% above.

Three quarters (75%) believed their businesses will still be viable in six months' time. More than two thirds (70%) had applied for support and 91% of those had received assistance.

Most businesses (71%) said they were confident they can access the financial resources they need to get through the crisis and 87% were confident they'd be able to adhere to government guidelines when emerging from lockdown.

At the time of the survey, 72% had already taken appropriate safety measures. Other measures taken included changes to workplace layout (38%), staff training (35%), reviewing staff requirements (31%) and enabling staff to work from home (37%).

Looking ahead, firms reported both concerns and potential opportunities.

The main concerns for the next six months were economic downturn (61%), future waves of coronavirus and lockdown (55%), and sustainability of the business (25%).

Reported opportunities centred around adapting products or services (26%), changing customer behaviour or preferences (26%) and growing an online presence (26%). Others include targeting new markets (25%), using technology differently (22%), and repositioning the business (15%).

Throughout the lockdown, staff at HIE have been home working, while the agency has reshaped its priorities to help meet the changing needs of the region's businesses and communities.

A major focus has been on helping distribute Scottish Government support such as the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund and the Supporting Communities Fund. Together these have brought millions of pounds to the Highlands and Islands.

Charlotte Wright, chief executive of HIE, said:"We are, as always, extremely grateful to everyone who took part in the survey. The feedback they have provided is helping to assess the different ways in which covid-19 has been affecting the region’s economy. It will form part of the region’s voice, feeding into the national picture and help inform future policy and support as we work on recovery.

"As expected, the survey shows there have been many severe impacts across the Highlands and Islands and the road to recovery is a long one.

"In that context, the high success rate among those who applied for government support is encouraging, and suggests the additional funding is being targeted effectively and making a real difference.

“We particularly welcome the confidence that many firms have in their own future and that they expect to have the resources they need to get through the crisis. This is typical of the prevailing can-do optimistic attitude of so many in the region; qualities that will be vital in rebuilding the economy."

HIE’s Business Panel Survey reports are available online at https://www.hie.co.uk/research-and-reports/our-reports/2020/may/21/hie-business-panel-survey-2020/. The next wave of the survey is due to take place in October.

PHOTO - Charlotte Wright, chief executive of HIE (photo by Ewen Weatherspoon)

 

Related Businesses

 

Related Articles

Funding Boost For Wester Ross Dry Dock Accommodation ProjectThumbnail for article : Funding Boost For Wester Ross Dry Dock Accommodation Project
A project to create accommodation facilities at Kishorn dry dock in Wester Ross has secured investment of up to £94,675 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).   Having on-site accommodation will enhance the dock's capacity and help it attract more high-end contracts in offshore renewables and oil and gas decommissioning.  
Building Resilience For Island Communities
£2 million for locally-led green recovery.   Island communities will benefit from a £2 million programme of locally-led green projects designed to help support their economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  
Pathfinder taster session date set as programme opens for applicationsThumbnail for article : Pathfinder taster session date set as programme opens for applications
A free programme to help businesses accelerate their growth has opened for new applications, with a virtual taster session arranged for 24 September 2020.   Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Pathfinder Accelerator programme provides fast-track training and mentoring and will be delivered completely online.  
Spy Satellites Destined For Scottish SpaceportsThumbnail for article : Spy Satellites Destined For Scottish Spaceports
The online news hound "The Ferret has published a story today that the space hubs being proposed for Sutherland and Shetland will be used to launch spy satellites.   The arms industry is preparing to use two spaceports planned for Scotland to launch military spy satellites, an investigation by The Ferret can reveal.  
Orkney community group plans new use for former boat storeThumbnail for article : Orkney community group plans new use for former boat store
The Nouster Boat Store is situated on Papa Westray (known locally as Papay) and will become home for a new arts residency programme and the Bothy Museum, which is currently located at Holland Farm on the island.   Papay Development Trust has been awarded £31,458 funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to help it acquire and develop the Grade B Listed building.  
Working together for economic recoveryThumbnail for article : Working together for economic recovery
Unlocking the potential of the Highlands and Islands will be a key factor in Scotland's recovery, writes Alistair Dodds, Chair of HIE.   Nothing focuses the mind more than a crisis.  
Deadline extended for comments on Cairngorm masterplan documentThumbnail for article : Deadline extended for comments on Cairngorm masterplan document
Cairngorm Estate owner, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), has responded positively to a request from stakeholders to extend the deadline, which was originally to be 31 August.   Deadline extended to 15 September.  
Hotel Support Programme WelcomedThumbnail for article : Hotel Support Programme Welcomed
Businesses that meet the criteria will be eligible for both grants and a holistic business review with bespoke support based on their individual needs.   Carroll Buxton, deputy chief executive of HIE, said: "Hotels are at the heart of our tourism sector, which is central to our regional economy and a vital source of rural employment.  
New online workshops for heritage organisationsThumbnail for article : New online workshops for heritage organisations
Reaching new audiences through digital media will be the focus of free online workshops for heritage organisations being held over the next two months.   The first series of virtual events held in May and June proved popular with thousands of viewers during the lockdown.  
HIE approves £3m support for tourism DMOsThumbnail for article : HIE approves £3m support for tourism DMOs
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is to invest £3m over the next three years in tourism destination management organisations (DMOs) as part of the agency's support for the sector's recovery.   DMOs are formalised membership organisations representing local tourism providers, with many involved in regional level partnership working.