• A third (33%) of SME owners reported that working through Covid-19 has adversely affected their mental health 
  • Two fifths (39%) are questioning whether they want to continue running their own business 
  • Only one in five (19%) affected businesses expect their operations to return to pre-Covid-19 levels in 2020 
  • 40% of female business owners say their mental health has suffered, compared to 30% of their male counterparts
  • Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 

New research1 from Santander UK reveals that ongoing concerns around coronavirus have taken their toll on UK business owners, with a third (33%) stating that working through Covid-19 has adversely affected their mental health.  

The study – which polled 2,050 UK SME owners – revealed that 58% of those surveyed had reported a decrease in profits and revenues as a result of lockdown2 restrictions, while still having to meet ongoing cashflow and cost commitments.

Two fifths (39%) of SME owners who have been adversely affected say they are now questioning whether they want to continue running their own business in future. The figure is made even more concerning when taking into account the vast number of people employed by UK SMEs, which according to the latest data stands at 5.8 million3 – accounting for 99.3% of the entire working population. 

Over a third (36%) of SMEs said they would not be ready to face any other challenges or future crises until they had dealt with Covid-19, and only one in five SMEs expect their business to return to operating at pre-Covid-19 levels in 2020.

The data also draws parallels between the impact of Covid-19 on female business owners compared to their male counterparts. According to the data, four in ten women SME owners reported that Covid-19 had impacted their mental health. This is lower than their male counterparts, where 30% of respondents had suffered while trying to run their business through the pandemic.

The announcement comes as Santander UK has invested in the workplace wellbeing services of Mind, the UK's leading mental health charity, to enhance customer-facing colleagues’ knowledge and awareness of mental health, including how best to respond to and support our customers. 

Susan Davies, Head of Business Banking, Santander UK, commented: “Running your own business can be challenging at the best of times, but the pandemic has pushed many business owners to breaking point. Our SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy – losing these businesses would create a damaging ripple effect across the country. We are working at pace to help businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors to recalibrate after the devastating impact of the pandemic and are helping customers with practical support and advice to evolve their business models.” 

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “We are really pleased to be working with Santander UK and welcome their commitment to better support the mental health of their colleagues and customers, particularly through these challenging times. The coronavirus pandemic has caused large and sudden changes to the way we work, with businesses and employees forced to adapt quickly. Adjustments can present challenges, including to our mental health and wellbeing, so it’s vital that employees can access support when they need it. We’re looking forward to working with Santander UK to provide these important support services for better mental health.” 

Just a fifth (19%) of business owners expect to return to normal operating levels by the end of 2020 and almost a third (32%) by July 2021. One in ten SMEs in the West Midlands never expect their business operations to return to pre-Covid-19 levels. Meanwhile, businesses in Northern Ireland are more hopeful, with over a third (36%) expecting to return to normal before the end of 2020. 

Earlier this year Santander UK launched a new business support programme4, ‘Survive and Revive’ designed to help businesses transition successfully out of the lockdown and ensure they have the capabilities and tools to prosper in a post-pandemic environment. Santander UK also launched its largest ever programme to bolster its support for businesswomen across the UK - the ‘Women Business Leaders’ mentoring programme. All the seminars and meetings have been virtual and as the programme comes to an end, over 200 mentors and mentees will graduate, having benefitted from a fresh approach, invaluable sharing of ideas and even a couple of new businesses in the making.  

For further information on how to support you, colleagues, customers, friends, and family, please visit Mind's website - https://www.mind.org.uk. Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 - lines are open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday. 


The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors 
1.    Research is drawn from a survey conducted by Opinium research between the 10th - 19th June 2020. The base size was 2,050 UK adults who are senior managers and those above who are responsible for decision making in SMEs. 
2.    Lockdown was introduced in UK on 23 March 2020. 
3.    Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: Business population estimates for the UK and regions: 2019 statistical release. 
4.    More information on Santander’s ‘Survive and Revive’ programme, including our webinars and a list of other helpful resources is at www.santanderbreakthrough.co.uk/coronavirus.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2020, the bank had around 23,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. 

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 146 million customers, of which 21.5 million are loyal and 40 million are digital, 11,800 branches and 194,000 employees. 

About Mind:

  • Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. They provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. mind.org.uk
  • Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.
  • Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am - 6pm, Monday – Friday).
  • For information and support on staying mentally healthy at this time, visit www.mind.org.uk/coronavirus.
  • Mind’s online mental health community Side by Side is a safe space where anyone aged 18 and over with experience of a mental health problem can share their story, connect with others, access Mind’s wider information and resources, and give support in return. Find out more at www.sidebyside.mind.org.uk.
  • Mind’s income has been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus, largely due to the temporary closure of their charity shops across England and Wales, and the cancellation or postponement of major fundraising events. To help them continue their vital work, donate to their emergency appeal: www.mind.org.uk/donate.

Media Enquiries

Lara Lipsey        M: 07712 560 209    E: lara.lipsey@santander.co.uk 

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