The latest weekly ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network (The CFN) SME Health Tracker reveals the mental health of SME owners is being impacted by the effects of Covid-19 on their business.
Asked about their clients’ mental health, 89% of practitioners say their clients have reported feeling more stressed than usual and not sleeping, with 78% stating a worsened mental health condition, 56% unable to cope and an alarming 11% sharing the fact they’ve had suicidal thoughts.
This week’s poll among an expert panel of accountants representing nearly 3,000 SME clients in the UK reported that 4% of firms had decided to liquidate, compared to 3% last week.
SMEs’ concerns about accessing cash during lockdown have also increased with 23% saying they won’t be able to access cash to last them two weeks or more of lockdown compared to 12% last week. Perceptions about trading conditions have also changed, with just 16% saying they think they’ll be trading normally in the near future compared to 21% a week ago.
For the firms who made a CBILs application for their SME clients, 26% have been declined, 10% have been approved and 6% are waiting for a response. And as the UK begins to unlock, SMEs say the ability to implement social distancing is the most important concern for them, closely followed by cashflow and possible staff restructures.
Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK comments: ‘It’s important to acknowledge the wider and vital role accountants continue to have in helping small business best navigate life changing choices during this pandemic. As the weeks pass, the impact on lives is becoming clearer; as more small business owners decide to liquidate, we’re also seeing a worsening picture of mental health in the small business community. Having someone to speak to at this time is vital, and we know some hard conversations are being had, and will continue for months to come.’
Kirsty McGregor, founder of The CFN, and an accountant, adds: ‘The pressures are mounting and this is reflected in what practitioners are hearing from their clients. While the extension to the furlough scheme is to be welcomed, it would be easier for business owners if the flexibility could be brought in before the planned date of 1st August. As businesses make plans to reopen, they need the ability to bring employees back part-time now, and not have to make that difficult decision to make some employees redundant, which is a very stressful decision to make and enact.’
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Notes to Editors
The expert panel of accountants polled represents 2725 firms across the UK and the poll closed on the afternoon of 19 May 2020.
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.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA UK has 167,000 members and future members. Globally, ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.
Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: 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