UK SMEs remain committed to sustainability despite Covid-19

30 December 2020

  • span class="rte-body--normal-text">More than half (54%) of UK SMEs say becoming more environmentally sustainable is important to their business, just ten points fewer than in 2019 (64%).
  • A similar number (52%) have taken steps to become more environmentally sustainable in the last year, using cash reserves (29%) and government grants (13%) to fund improvements.
  • Pressure from customers (18%) and long-term cost savings (18%) remain SMEs’ primary sustainability drivers.

The majority of UK SMEs remain focused on improving their environmental sustainability despite Covid-19, according to Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking’s Business Barometer.

More than half (54%) of UK SMEs said becoming more environmentally sustainable is important to their business – just ten points fewer than the proportion that said the same in 2019 (64%).

Despite the challenges of the last year and the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, more than half (52%) of UK SMEs continued to work to become more environmentally sustainable in the past 12 months – just 11 points fewer than in 2019 (63%).

A fifth said they had used suppliers that source environmentally friendly products and services (19%) or made alterations to their premises to improve energy efficiency (19%) in the last year.

A similar proportion (17%) have invested in energy efficient equipment or machinery, while one in ten (11%) has switched energy supplier or installed an onsite renewable energy source.

When it comes to SMEs’ sustainability drivers, pressure from customers (18% vs. 22% in 2019), long-term costs savings (18% vs. 23% in 2019) and firms’ corporate social responsibility policies (17% vs. 19% in 2019) are the top three factors.

Meanwhile, cash reserves (29% vs. 35% in 2019) and government grants (13% vs. 12% in 2019) remain the most popular forms of finance for SMEs looking to improve their environmental performance.

Paul Gordon, Managing Director, SME & Mid-Corporates, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:“While many businesses have been forced to prioritise mitigating the immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s hugely encouraging to see that the majority of firms still have their sights set on improving their environmental performance.”

“Environmental sustainability will sit at the heart of successful coronavirus recovery strategies and, ultimately, investment in this area is going to help businesses – and the UK as a whole – build back better.”

“We’re committed to ensuring that our customers are fully supported to transition to a low carbon economy. We’re standing by the side of businesses across the country with discounted funding for green initiatives and with our Relationship Teams specially trained to help put sustainability plans into action.”