The Debt Problem for U.K. Small Businesses Precede the Pandemic

Many small businesses in the United Kingdom are grappling with burdensome debt.

The buildup of debt stretches across decades, and Covid-19 has made the problem much more pronounced.

It's been especially difficult for the hospitality sector.

Here's an April 22 article excerpt from the Yorkshire Post:

Yorkshire firms face £4.2bn debt burden from pandemic as Labour calls for more flexibility to help business to repay

On a visit to a brewery in Ilkley today, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary and Yorkshire MP Ed Miliband will call for more to be done to help businesses supplying the hospitality industry which have had no choice but to take on debt.

The latest figures on the Government's Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans show that businesses of all kinds in Yorkshire are currently facing £4.2bn of debt, taken on to keep them afloat during the covid crisis.

Nationwide, the hospitality industry is one of the most indebted sectors with an overhang of more than £6bn.

Labour says that while pubs and restaurants have been able to access emergency cash grants, businesses supplying the hospitality industry have been blocked from accessing the majority of these cash grants and many will have therefore had no choice but to take on debt.

Elliott Wave International's May Global Market Perspective puts U.K. small-business debt into historical perspective:

Last month's record jump in distressed UK businesses confirms the assessment that the Global Market Perspective made last September: "A once-in-a-century global pandemic precipitated the recession, but a near-century-long buildup of debt will soon crystallize the slump into a prolonged and agonizing depression." At last count, more than 723,000 UK firms are facing significant financial distress, according to market researcher Begbies Traynor. At 15%, the increase in distressed firms over the fourth quarter of 2020 represents the biggest jump since Begbies Traynor began publishing the data in 2014. For the year, the number of distressed companies has climbed an incredible 42%, and, importantly, too, every single sector that the company surveyed reported that its financial condition had deteriorated.