ACCA joins call to action: Supporting SMEs' access to COVID-19 support funding via professional advice

ACCA joins 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, and make the best use of them as they work towards a swift recovery through the crisis.

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 already addressing the issue, having set up strong support measures to assist companies including SMEs, but 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.

There are several challenges to this:

  • the current landscape of SME funding and COVID-19 support across the EU is complex. SMEs are busy with immediate crisis management and often do not have the time, capacity or knowledge to identify the sources of funding and support available to them
  • the application processes and eligibility requirements to access the funds can be burdensome, complex and prone to mistakes
  • SMEs may struggle to identify the best ways to invest the funding to prepare for a resilient and sustainable post-COVID future

Countries are also facing an unprecedented public financing challenge from COVID-19, and while the EU’s recovery package will make additional funding available for countries, this funding should be used in the most effective and transparent way.

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, or Finland where the national innovation support vouchers also cover professional 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.

To view the response in full, please download the Call for Action document.