Extra help urgent to save lives and livelihoods of SMEs, warns ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has joined with champions of small business to call for more help for the troubled sector in the wake of Covid-19.

The call came in a roundtable discussion hosted by ACCA with the Forgotten Ltd campaign, which supports small limited company directors affected by the coronavirus; the Corporate Finance Network (CFN) – which speaks for independent accountancy firms; and Sarah Olney MP, the Liberal Democrat business spokesperson and ACCA member.

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.

Lloyd Powell, head of ACCA Cymru, 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.

‘We need the political will to change, to save businesses and jobs. This is taking a heavy toll on  people’s mental health.

‘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.’

Kirsty McGregor from The CFN said: ‘We need to celebrate small enterprises and keep them in business.’

In the latest results from the CFN and ACCA UK SME Recovery Tracker, more SMEs reported greater levels of stress and anxiety due to Covid-19.

The survey of accountants, representing more than 22,000 SME clients, shows increasing tension and strain. 71% of accountants reported that their SME clients had shared feelings of being more stressed and anxious than usual, up from 69% two weeks before.

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.

‘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 Treasury for support for all the forgotten groups who have been left out of the efforts and measures to keep businesses alive.’