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

Date

07 Dec 2020

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) 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.

Mike Suffield, Director of Professional Insights at ACCA says: ‘Experts from the accountancy profession and from SMP associations are the closest and trusted advisors for SMEs, and as such, they can play a vital role in supporting SME survival. With their strong financial expertise, they can help them navigate the various local, national and European support financing opportunities, access the relevant support options and prepare the necessary application documentation. And importantly, they can also support SMEs in the development of financial plans to ensure most effective use of the funding to make a swift recovery during the crisis’.

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.

Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova , Head of SME Affairs at ACCA says: ‘Accountancy professionals and small and medium-sized practices(SMPs) have risen strongly to the challenge of COVID-19, supporting the SME sector heavily impacted by the crisis.  They are often referred to as the “emergency services” for small business sector, working individually and collectively to keep thousands of small businesses afloat. In some cases, given the emergency of the situation, many accountants and SMPs have been providing the assistance to small businesses pro-bono, supporting their clients who had no income, but how sustainable is that given that practices are themselves part of the small business segment?’

‘Governments need to intervene and support the small business sector at this important phase, when businesses need to rethink the way they will be working in the new realms. Access to professional advice and respective funding to access this advice is crucial for sustainable recovery’, Aleksandra Zaronina-Kirillova concluded.

ends-

For media enquiries, contact:

Cecile Bonino, ACCA Head of EU Affairs

Mob: +32 (0) 493 29 17 66

www.accaglobal.com

@ACCAViews

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 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

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