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Covid-19: thoughts of the Veterinary sector

Every sector, without exception, has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. To determine how vets are coping and what their thoughts are about the future, Braemar Finance commissioned *independent research in July, the results of which are outlined, below.

Click here to download 'Covid-19: thoughts of the Veterinary sector' infographic 

When, if at all, do you believe/expect your business will be fully operational again?

On balance, many (35%) vets feel it will take between 1 – 3 months before being fully operational; less optimistically, 33% are of the opinion it will only take them 3 - 6 months. Over one in 10 (13%) vets are taking the longer view and think it will take anything up to a year before things are properly back to normal. 

Do you expect your business to expand or contract over the next 12 months?

Vets are more likely to contract (22%) than expand (13%) in the coming 12 months. The remaining 65% will be ‘staying the same’. 

How do you think your revenue during the next 12 months will compare (in % terms) to levels prior to COVID-19 lockdown?

Only 7% of vets think they will see an increase in revenue in the coming year with a further 8% saying they don’t anticipate any difference. That leaves 85% of those polled are who expect a decrease of anything between 1% and 100%.

Have you made use of the government’s furlough scheme for staff?

Eight in ten vets have made use of the government’s furlough scheme, on par with the professions average of 81%, but behind dentists (92%), opticians (85%) and pharmacists (83%), among others.

In terms of future staffing, will your business operate with more or less staff?

Many vets (63%) are confident – once things return to normal - they will return to work with the same number of people as before the pandemic. A third believe they will need fewer people while only 4% will be employing more.

Which of the following government schemes, if any, have you made use of? (select all that apply)

With the government having acted to make funding schemes available early on during the pandemic, many vets have applied for at least one of the schemes, or even a combination, as seen from the results:

  • CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) - 58.5%
  • Grants - 41.5%
  • Bounceback loans  - 49.5%
  • Non of the above - 3%

Thinking about the future, what, if anything, are your priorities in terms of financial support? (tick up to three)

While vets are looking to government funding to see them through the pandemic they are also looking at other ways to ensure they can keep their practice viable, including:

  • Government support and advice - 49%
  • New funding - 42.5%
  • Consolidation of loans - 49.5%
  • Payment holidays - 43.5%
  • Other - 7.5%

Going forward which of the following, if any, are you likely to rely on funding for? (tick all that apply)

In common with many other sectors and professions, vets’ funding priorities have seen a necessitated shift towards, for example, re-fits and PPE; however, the need to invest in equipment remains high on the list.

  • IT - 61.5%
  • Equipment - 42.5%
  • PPE - 43.5%
  • Cashflow - 35.5%
  • Hiring new staff - 26%
  • Re-fit - 24%

What, if anything, is your business’s current primary source of financial support?

While vets are looking to the government for assistance, bank / funder loans are – by some distance - the main source of finance (55%) of vets, followed by government grants (19%), savings and family and friends (both 12%).

What, if anything, is your attitude towards debt?

Vets have contrasting views about debt and what it means – 43% feel it’s part and parcel of running a business while 44% have the opposite opinion and think it’s a sign of a poorly run business. 11% don’t have an attitude to debt.

What steps, if any, have you taken to reduce your stress or anxiety? (Select all that apply)

Almost every vet who took part in our research relied on at least one coping mechanism to address their mental wellbeing, ranging from maintaining a routine and remaining organised to being more flexible and giving themselves regular breaks.

  • I have tried to maintain a routine - 41.5%

  • I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family - 44%

  • I'm more flexible with my working day - 42.5%

  • I give myself regular breaks - 43.5%

  • I am staying organised - 34.5%

  • Other - 2.5%

  • I have not taken any steps to reduce my stress or anxiety - 2%

How supported do you feel by your professional body?

The large majority of vets (18.5% ‘very supported’; 78.5% ‘somewhat supported’) feel their professional body has done a good during the pandemic. Just 3% have felt let down.

How would you best describe your business's current economic outlook?

Vets are fairly evenly split about the prospects for the UK’s economy, with over a fifth  expecting a quick path to full recovery while a further fifth think the economy is still declining, with worse to come.

  • The economy is still declining – there is worse to come - 22%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a slow path to full recovery - 24%
  • The worst is behind us but I'm concerned the economy could decline again - 27%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a quick path to full recovery - 21.5%
  • I don't think there will be any true economic growth for the foreseeable future - 5.5%

Methodology

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Censuswide survey conducted in late July 2020. The survey canvassed the opinion of over 1200 senior members of the professions across the UK on a range of issues affecting their businesses.