AROUND six in ten businesses are at risk of going under because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey.

The findings, released by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, also revealed that nearly seven out of ten firms have furloughed some or all of their workforce, and that 20 per cent were forced to lay people off.

The results are the first findings in a two-part survey of Chamber members, where more than 110 online respondents answered questions regarding furlough, lay-offs, home working and the government's business interruption loan scheme.

28% have applied for help under the Small Business Grants Fund.

It has prompted the Chamber to call on the government to "safely" re-open the economy "in stages in line with medical advice".

Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman Ross McNally said: “Our members are doing all they can to safeguard jobs and stay afloat in one of the most extreme crises anyone in business has ever faced.

“Our survey represents the first Hampshire-based evidence of the impact of the lockdown on business activity and the likely take-up and intentions regarding state support schemes.

“The government’s measures are of course welcome but they must be available on the ground quickly and immediately to minimise job losses and business failures.

“We call on ministers to continue business support while safely reopening the economy in stages in line with medical advice.

“Beating the virus remains the top priority. Once that is done, we stand ready to return to our workplaces, rebuild customer bases and reopen supply chains.

“We must be confident that in time we can maintain our economy on a high-growth, high-wage and high-employment trajectory.

“Survey results give us and other business support organisations the essential evidence we need to keep pressing government on their strategies to safeguard the economy.”

The survey found that 57 per cent are at risk of closure or insolvency, and most say the next three months are critical.

Nine out of ten respondents have implemented home working whilst 55 per cent of respondents have had to access the government's furlough scheme.