NEARLY half of the South East's businesses have a plan in place for a localised lockdown.

A study has revealed that 52 per cent of companies in the region are prepared – and just 26 per cent have plans to deal with a second wave.

The date was comprised by Driving for Better Business (DfBB), the government-backed Highways England programme, surveying 150 SME business owners.

Campaign manager Simon Turner said: "Every organisation puts in place a business strategy and a plan to deliver on that strategy. They weave in contingencies that enable the plan to be flexible and to react to changing market conditions.

"Very few would have entered 2020 with a contingency to deal with the fallout from a global pandemic though.

"COVID-19 caused thousands of deaths across the world and we are only beginning to see the longer-term impact it will have on society, the economy and businesses.”

“Overall, the findings showed that business leaders have similar concerns, though those that run SMEs are more concerned than larger enterprises. Top of mind for business leaders are rebuilding their business and surviving any additional lockdown measures, while managing workforce welfare and mental health.”

The top three business concerns for the South East include the ability to stay in business in the event of further lockdowns (57 per cent), the operational costs of running the business (57 per cent), and staff absence due to COVID-19 (52 per cent).

“The economic outlook is uncertain, to say the least, with experts divided over exactly how badly different sectors could be affected," added Mr Turner.

"On the whole, however, our survey sample were optimistic. One thing that is certain though, is that firms must adjust quickly to the current environment and take every opportunity to minimise operational costs and improve efficiencies in order to give themselves the best chance of survival, and the ability to thrive as soon as conditions allow."