Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme appears to lift immediate concerns among businesses, but outlook remains rocky, finds ACCA UK and Corporate Finance Network’s weekly SME Health Tracker

Access to cash in the short and medium-term is still an uncertainty for many businesses as they struggle with trading conditions created by the Covid-19 pandemic, reveals the latest results from ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network’s (The CFN) weekly poll of accountants working for approximately 11,500 small business clients across the UK.

The results show 39% of businesses will not be able to access the additional cash they will need to last two more weeks of lockdown – a slight increase in last week’s result of 38%.

Looking ahead to four weeks of further lockdown, this number rises to 53%.

The poll has seen glimpses of optimism about growth, with accountants reporting that 5% of businesses will be growing in three months’ time compared to just 2% last week. Respondents also said 11% will probably be trading normally in 12 weeks’ time, compared to 5% last week. This optimism may be due to the raft of proactive measures introduced by the UK government in recent weeks.

The poll closed at 3pm on 21 April 2020, and consequently results do not yet show the full effect of the furlough funding package.

However, Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK says: ‘Our members have told us they’ve been inundated with queries about recent rescue packages – CBILS and the furlough scheme. This shows the urgency of the current climate and the need from businesses for professional help to navigate the rescue schemes available, so they in turn can support their employees at this critical time. Indications show that HMRC’s portal has survived the initial influx of furlough applications to meet April’s payroll deadline, but we can’t stress enough the need for processes to be as straightforward as possible.’

Kirsty McGregor, founder of The CFN, and an accountant, adds: ‘The CBILS loan scheme is not making its full impact felt yet – in my experience as a business advisor, SMEs do not want to take on debt, when they are potentially facing a decision about whether to continue in business and to then risk having this on their credit record for the future. The concern about the ability to withstand cash pressure in the very short term still stands, and it will be interesting to see the poll’s results in seven days’ time. It’s clear that businesses large and small are having to make very big decisions about their future viability.’

- Ends -

Kirsty McGregor and Claire Bennison are available for interview. Kirsty McGregor can be contacted at kirsty@TheCFN.org.uk

Please contact Nadia Manuelli or Maurice Richmond for details
Nadia Manuelli
E: nadia.manuelli@accaglobal.com
M: +44 (0)7808 940139

Maurice Richmond
E: maurice.richmond@accaglobal.com
M: +44 (0)7802 951 809

Notes to Editors
The expert panel of accountants polled represent approx. 11,575 clients across the UK and the poll closed on the 21 April 2020.

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 (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 kirsty@TheCFN.org.uk

 

"Our members have told us they’ve been inundated with queries about recent rescue packages – CBILS and the furlough scheme. This shows the urgency of the current climate and the need from businesses for professional help to navigate the rescue schemes available, so they in turn can support their employees at this critical time."

Claire Bennison - Head of ACCA UK

"The CBILS loan scheme is not making its full impact felt yet – in my experience as a business advisor, SMEs do not want to take on debt, when they are potentially facing a decision about whether to continue in business and to then risk having this on their credit record for the future. "

Kirsty McGregor, Founder - The Corporate Finance Network