With lockdown restrictions easing in most parts of the UK and some encouraging signs of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, it’s important to recognise the impact that the extended shut down has had on businesses.

That’s why the Federation of Small Businesses has undertaken a study of more than 1,000 firms, to see how they have been affected to date.

It shows that two-thirds of UK small firms have furloughed staff as a result of the pandemic, while others have been scaling back capital investment (37 per cent), reducing working hours (25 per cent) and cutting training initiatives (14 per cent).

Plus, despite much-needed support from the Job Retention Scheme, one in ten small firms have already been forced to make redundancies. Among those with at least one member of staff aged 16-17 the figure rises to one in five (19 per cent).

It’s also important to recognise that, while many small businesses have benefited from emergency support measures, some have missed out, fallen further behind and so face even greater challenges to get their businesses back on track.

With smaller firms employing 16.6 million people – well more than half of the UK’s private sector workforce – it’s vital that they receive the support they need to survive and thrive.

Bold measures to bring down employment costs, aid job retention and creation, help apprentices and young people to enter the workplace and bolster consumer demand can all help to create the conditions for growth and stability.

Plus, if the new normal means more ecommerce, home-working and cashless trading, then we need a fit-for-purpose broadband network and incentives to adopt new-to-firm and new-to-market, innovations.

One thing we know for sure is that following the last major economic shock to hit the country – the 2007-8 financial crash – 90 per cent of people who re-joined the workforce did so through a small business or self-employment.

So, to recover from this latest crisis, it’s pretty clear where support should be targeted.