ACCA calls for further SME support

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has called for tougher support of SMEs in the wake of Covid-19.

The move has followed a roundtable discussion hosted by ACCA alongside the Forgotten Ltd campaign, which supports small limited company directors affected by the coronavirus.

The Corporate Finance Network (CFN), which represents independent accountancy firms, and Sarah Olney MP, the Liberal Democrat business spokesperson and ACCA member, also participated in the discussion.

At the roundtable event, ACCA members and partners were “unanimous in the need for immediate action to save the livelihoods of millions of people in the UK who have been left out of Government initiatives to ease the economic impact of Covid”.

The renewed call for support follows the latest CFN and ACCA UK SME Recovery Tracker, which found that more SMEs reported greater levels of stress and anxiety due to Covid-19.

The survey of accountants, representing more than 22,000 SME clients, revealed increasing tension and strain across SMEs, with 71% of accountants reporting that their SME clients had “shared feelings of being more stressed and anxious than usual”, up from 69% two weeks before.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said: “It is so important that we can support small businesses to survive. There are areas of small business that are really struggling. They have been left behind by Government interventions, and the Chancellor’s statement on 8 July sadly left that unchanged.”

Gina Broadhurst, co-founder of Forgotten Ltd, said: “We represent two million companies employing 7.5m people. We are not fat cats or multi-millionaires. We don’t want special treatment. We want parity with everybody else.

“Forgotten Ltd proposes a raft of measures to help small and micro-businesses, including cash injections via income support and corporation tax rebates. Currently the only option is debt but even access to bounceback loans has been challenging.”

Sarah Olney MP said: “We are going to see a lot of unemployment resulting from the shutdown, especially for those entering the workforce. 

“It will also affect people further down their careers who have found their pathways into the future have fallen away.”

She added: “There’s no doubt that some sectors are really badly hit, notably areas like aviation and tourism. There is huge concern across all parties about the forgotten and the excluded.

“I will continue to push the Treasury for support for all the forgotten groups who have been left out of the efforts and measures to keep businesses alive.”

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