• 90% of Yorkshire mid-sized businesses say they will fully recover from COVID-19 within six months from the point a vaccine is made available
  • 80% of companies have revised their business plans as a result of the positive vaccine news

An overwhelming number of Yorkshire businesses predict a rapid recovery once COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out sufficiently, according to new data published today.

Following news of multiple vaccine trial successes, including Oxford University’s breakthrough in collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, a resounding 90% of businesses in the region predict they will fully recover in less than six months, returning to pre-COVID-19 levels once a vaccine is made available.

The latest BDO Rethinking the Economy survey of 500 mid-sized businesses, found that 80% of Yorkshire businesses have already made significant changes to their 2021 business plans following the news of likely vaccines.

The majority (90%) of businesses also reported feeling more optimistic about the UK’s economic recovery compared with three months ago – the highest level of optimism in the regions and significantly above the national average of 54%.

Despite the optimism around a potential vaccine, 97% of businesses in Yorkshire believe the Government’s tiered system will lead to a greater economic divide. The research shows that regional lockdowns have already caused a divide among businesses. 50% of companies in the North East, an area that has faced stricter restrictions for a longer period than many other regions, say they have not fully recovered from the first lockdown and think the impact of the current lockdown will be more severe.

This comes as the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a £4 billion Levelling up Fund, as part of last week’s Spending Review. The investment will take a place-based approach and directly fund regional projects of up to £20 million based on assessing local impact.

Commenting on the findings, Terry Jones, partner and head of BDO LLP in Yorkshire, said: “Yorkshire businesses are showing a resounding level of optimism, in light of the recent vaccine trials – above all other regions in the UK.

“While Yorkshire business leaders believe that a vaccine will help trigger business recovery in the region, it must be taken into account how long it could take to effectively roll out a vaccine to a sufficient proportion of the region’s population.

“The fact still remains that a significant proportion of companies face stiff operational challenges. These include managing cashflow and domestic supply chains, as well as making loan payments.”

He added: “The tiered approach to lockdowns has clearly intensified the levelling up debate in the regions, with 97% of mid-sized businesses in Yorkshire believing that COVID-19 will further widen the UK’s north / south economic gap. The Government must ensure that any businesses disproportionately impacted by local lockdowns are given adequate support.”

The Rethinking the Economy survey also revealed that almost a quarter of businesses say that paying back business loans is one of the biggest threats to their business in 2021, together with a slow economic recovery (24%).