NEARY six out of 10 Hampshire businesses told a survey they are at risk of going under because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The concerns were revealed in research by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce which is among the first in-depth studies of how the virus is affecting companies in the county.

Fifty-seven per cent of the respondents said they were at risk of closure or insolvency despite government aid, with most saying the next three months would be the critical period.

The survey also found:

  • Nearly seven 70 per cent of firms have furloughed some or all of their workforce, with 20 per cent forced to lay people off.
  • Nine out of 10 respondents had introduced home working to some extent.
  • Fifty-five per cent were accessing the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to claim the wages of furloughed staff.
  • Twenty-four per cent were planning to use the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
  • Twenty-eight per cent had applied to the Small Business Grants Fund.

Hampshire Chamber’s chief executive and executive chairman, Ross McNally, said: “Our members are doing all they can to safeguard jobs and stay afloat in one of the most extreme crises anyone in business has ever faced.

“Our survey represents the first Hampshire-based evidence of the impact of the lockdown on business activity and the likely take-up and intentions regarding state support schemes.

“The government’s measures are of course welcome but they must be available on the ground quickly and immediately to minimise job losses and business failures.

“We call on ministers to continue business support while safely reopening the economy in stages in line with medical advice.

“Beating the virus remains the top priority.

“Once that is done, we stand ready to return to our workplaces, rebuild customer bases and reopen supply chains.”

More than 110 online respondents answered 17 questions.

Most are businesses with 50 or fewer employees, while 57 per cent have a staff of 10 or fewer.

The second part of the two-part survey has been launched at