Accountants’ open letter plea to help SMEs

Accountants throughout the UK have written an open letter to the Chancellor pleading for more to help small businesses survive the impact of coronavirus.

The signatories, from 250 practices representing more than 70,000 small businesses, identified two broad themes: to support those left behind by the Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes and to provide more clarity on the process and timings of grants.

The letter, signed by the business banking firm Countingup and “the hundreds of independent accounting practitioners who partner with us” tells Rishi Sunak:

“These accounting firms are members of organisations such as the ICAEW, ACCA, AAT and ICAS. They are at the coal face, extremely busy dealing with the many enquiries around the government’s support for small businesses impacted by Covid-19 – by and large they are providing this support for free.”

It goes on: “Our concern is that the JRS and SEISS do not go far enough to ensure the survival of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of small businesses who are not eligible. For those who are eligible, the process and timetable for the JRS and SEISS is unclear and puts these businesses at risk.”

It then sets out a series of issues affecting businesses which are not eligible, including directors on dividends and newly self-employed. The full letter can be accessed here.

It concludes:The UK will need all its entrepreneurs to drive growth during, and after this crisis. The government needs to provide equitable support now.”

Tim Fouracre, Countingup’s CEO, said: “We welcome the government support that’s being made available to sole traders and limited companies. We simply appeal for it to be provided equitably across the range of small businesses represented in the UK.”