What a difference a month can make. I am writing this at the beginning of April, with the UK in lockdown and the global economy in the grip of COVID 19. Just a month previously, we knew that Coronavirus was something to be taken seriously, but we had no expectation of what a crippling impact it would have in such a short period.

At the ASTL we undertook our regular quarterly members sentiment survey shortly after the Budget on 11 March. At the time, the Bank of England cut the Base Rate to 0.5% on the morning of the Budget and the headline announcements from the Chancellor all related to the steps the government was taking to help people through the pandemic. It was unsurprising therefore that the sentiment survey recognised the potential disruptive threat posed by Coronavirus. When asked whether they were concerned whether the Coronavirus outbreak would affect their business negatively, 67% of respondents said that they were.

Encouragingly, however, when asked whether they were confident about the long-term prospects for the UK economy, 73% of ASTL members said that they were confident. And 59% of members said that they expected to see growth in the turnover of their business in the next six months, although opinions were divided about the prospects for the sector as a whole, with 37% expecting turnover to increase, 30% anticipating it to shrink and 30% saying they thought there would be no change at all.

Expectations for UK property prices were also positive. While nobody anticipated strong growth over the next six months, nearly 52% of members said that they expected slight growth and less that 19% said they thought prices would fall.

It is likely that a sentiment survey undertaken at the time of writing this article might be a little less optimistic than results delivered in March, but similarly it is worth dwelling on how robust the sentiment was amongst bridging lenders ahead of the pause button effectively being pressed on the UK economy. Every day we can successfully ride out the current situation is a day closer to the return of normality and, while the market will not recover as quickly as it has been forced to contract, we came into this in a strong position and will emerge from it into an environment of heightened demand.

After all, the purpose of bridging is to address a short-term cashflow need and the stasis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic is creating significant cashflow requirements amongst small businesses, SMEs and investors across the country. I would expect brokers and lenders to see increased appetite from developers, portfolio landlords and business owners as the market returns, resulting in a spike in activity that helps the market to bounce back into recovery.

A lot can happen in a short time and, at some point soon, those changes will start to be positive ones as we emerge from this most unprecedented crisis and rebuild on the strong foundations we already had in place.

Vic Jannels, chief executive, Association of Short-Term Lenders

A version of this article appeared in the April digital edition of Business Moneyfacts