Coronavirus

CJRS relieves immediate concerns but outlook remains rocky, says ACCA

Access to cash in the short and medium-term is “still an uncertainty” for many businesses despite the supportive measures announced by the government, says ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network’s (CFN).

This is according to the two firm’s weekly poll of accountants working for approximately 11,500 small business clients across the UK. The results show 39% of businesses will not be able to access the additional cash they will need to last two more weeks of lockdown – a slight increase in last week’s result of 38%.

ACCA said looking ahead to four weeks of further lockdown, this number rises to 53%. It added that the poll has seen “glimpses of optimism about growth”, with accountants reporting that 5% of businesses will be growing in three months’ time compared to just 2% last week.

Respondents also said 11% will probably be trading normally in 12 weeks’ time, compared with 5% last week. This optimism may be due to the raft of proactive measures introduced by the UK government in recent weeks.

The poll closed at 3pm on 21 April 2020, and consequently results do not yet show the full effect of the furlough funding package.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK said: “Our members have told us they’ve been inundated with queries about recent rescue packages – CBILS and the furlough scheme.

“This shows the urgency of the current climate and the need from businesses for professional help to navigate the rescue schemes available, so they in turn can support their employees at this critical time.”

She added: “Indications show that HMRC’s portal has survived the initial influx of furlough applications to meet April’s payroll deadline, but we can’t stress enough the need for processes to be as straightforward as possible.”

Kirsty McGregor, founder of CFN, and an accountant, said: “The CBILS loan scheme is not making its full impact felt yet – in my experience as a business advisor, SMEs do not want to take on debt, when they are potentially facing a decision about whether to continue in business and to then risk having this on their credit record for the future.

“The concern about the ability to withstand cash pressure in the very short term still stands, and it will be interesting to see the poll’s results in seven days’ time. It’s clear that businesses large and small are having to make very big decisions about their future viability.”

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