The complications of reopening and managing cash flow – the reality of the lockdown lifting hits hard on SMEs

Emerging from the Covid-19 lockdown has not alleviated concerns about the future viability of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), or eased the stresses they are under, reveals the latest ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network (The CFN) SME Recovery Tracker.

The survey features insights from accountants representing more than 15,530 SME clients, and this week uncovers increasing levels of stress and anxiety. 83% of accountants report that their SME clients are feeling more stressed and anxious than usual; a third are not sleeping compared to 21% two weeks ago, and nearly a fifth say they can’t cope.

Closing on the 15 July, the results present a picture of wavering confidence with cashflow impacted over the last two weeks:

  • 5.4% of SMEs have decided to liquidate compared to 2.9% two weeks ago
  • 23% say current social distancing rules make it difficult for them to open and trade
  • 29% of SMEs have made their credit terms more favourable to get cash moving
  • 66% have deferred tax payments, and of these only 34% say they will be able to meet their tax liabilities in 6 months.

Kirsty McGregor, founder of The Corporate Finance Network comments: ‘Today, we launch the nationwide #LeaveNoBusinessBehind campaign with a call to support every business owner, so they can get back to business health and start thriving again.

‘Financial forecasts are an essential part of this survival – they’re a dynamic and necessary forward-looking roadmap. But we know this planning and forecasting will involve tough discussions between the SME owner, their accountant, lenders and families and there is an understandable reluctance to focus on the glaring reality of the situation. The government has introduced a raft of measures which we have welcomed, but there is more to be done. That’s why this campaign is now calling on the accountancy profession to step up with their expertise and ability to motivate.’

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK adds: ‘The lockdown may have been lifted, but this Tracker’s results show SME clients are more stressed than before. In the recent discussions we’ve had with ACCA members working with SMEs, we hear loud and clear the pressure their clients are under, clients who are hungry to find solutions to survive. Addressing these welfare concerns needs to be part of the policy mix in finding these solutions, and that’s why we’re proud to be supporting #LeaveNoBusinessBehind, an inclusive campaign that aims to redress the balance and where the skills of accountants will be paramount.’

- ends -

For media enquiries, contact:

Helen Thompson
E: helen.thompson@accaglobal.com
M: +44 (0)7724 498 654
@ACCANews

www.accaglobal.com

Notes to Editors

About the ACCA UK and The CFN SME Health Tracker: The expert panel of accountants polled represent 15,530 clients across the UK and the poll closed on the afternoon of 15 July 2020.

About #LeaveNoBusinessBehind: The CFN, ACCA UK, AccountingWeb, Clarity, AVN, Capitalise, and Accountex are the names from the accounting sector who are behind this UK campaign to call upon the accountancy profession to help business owners with their immediate survival and then their future business health. Accountants have a huge role to play to save the SME economy and a Hub with free training and practical resources has been created within a matter of weeks, to support accountants to do that. The statistic that only 27% of SMEs have prepared a written business plan, which came from this ACCA / CFN survey four weeks’ ago, was the catalyst for partners within the industry to urgently launch this movement, to try and prevent so many businesses ‘sleepwalking into insolvency’ over the next few months.

About SMEs: SMEs, (typically less than 250 employees), account for 99.9% of the private sector employment in the UK and there are 22 million employees working for these private sector businesses.

About ACCA: ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re a thriving global community of 227,000 members and 544,000 future members based in 176 countries / locations that upholds the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow. Find out more about us at www.accaglobal.com

About The Corporate Finance Network
The Corporate Finance Network – www.thecfn.org.uk - The Corporate Finance Network consists of some of the most proactive and commercially astute regional, independent accountancy firms in the UK. They specialise in providing corporate finance advice for smaller transactions.  Kirsty McGregor can be contacted at info@TheCFN.org.uk

 

"The lockdown may have been lifted, but this Tracker’s results show SME clients are more stressed than before. In the recent discussions we’ve had with ACCA members working with SMEs, we hear loud and clear the pressure their clients are under, clients who are hungry to find solutions to survive. Addressing these welfare concerns needs to be part of the policy mix in finding these solutions, and that’s why we’re proud to be supporting #LeaveNoBusinessBehind, an inclusive campaign that aims to redress the balance and where the skills of accountants will be paramount."

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK

"Today, we launch the nationwide #LeaveNoBusinessBehind campaign with a call to support every business owner, so they can get back to business health and start thriving again. Financial forecasts are an essential part of this survival – they’re a dynamic and necessary forward-looking roadmap. But we know this planning and forecasting will involve tough discussions between the SME owner, their accountant, lenders and families and there is an understandable reluctance to focus on the glaring reality of the situation. The government has introduced a raft of measures which we have welcomed, but there is more to be done. That’s why this campaign is now calling on the accountancy profession to step up with their expertise and ability to motivate. "

Kirsty McGregor, Founder, The CFN