The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has joined SMEunited, AccountancyEurope and EFAA in a joint call for action to ensure SMEs are able to access professional advice, helping them to identify the most appropriate Covid-19 recovery support options available.
It said the action comes as the Covid-19 crisis continues to have a “huge negative impact” on hundreds of thousands of Small and Medium-Sized Entities (SMEs).
The European Union (EU) and national governments are reportedly addressing the issue already, having set up strong support measures to assist companies including SMEs.
Nonetheless, ACCA said these support measures will only be effective if SMEs can access them easily and are able to use the funding in the most efficient ways.
In their joint call for action, SMEunited, Accountancy Europe, the European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs (EFAA for SMEs) and ACCA recommend the following actions:
- The European Commission and national governments should fully and at an early stage involve experts from SME associations and the accountancy profession in discussions, planning and design of SME support schemes to ensure their efficiency.
- Governments should ensure that SMEs are able to access professional advice as is already the case in certain EU member states, such as in Ireland where the Covid-19 Business Financial Planning Grant programme provides entrepreneurs with 100% funding of up to €5,000 to access an approved financial consultant’s advice.
- These provisions could be included in National Recovery and Resilience plans under the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility and Budget for 2021.
- An overall simplification and, where relevant, harmonisation of the support application requirements and procedures across different EU and national support funds, including a better coordination between all involved stakeholders to make procedures as seamless as possible.
Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova, head of SME Affairs at ACCA said: “Accountancy professionals and small and medium-sized practices(SMPs) have risen strongly to the challenge of Covid-19, supporting the SME sector heavily impacted by the crisis.
“They are often referred to as the “emergency services” for small business sector, working individually and collectively to keep thousands of small businesses afloat. In some cases, given the emergency of the situation, many accountants and SMPs have been providing the assistance to small businesses pro-bono, supporting their clients who had no income.”
She added: “Governments need to intervene and support the small business sector at this important phase, when businesses need to rethink the way they will be working in the new realms. Access to professional advice and respective funding to access this advice is crucial for sustainable recovery.”