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MPs: SMEs not prepared for Brexit, need help with tax and exports, and more information and advice


Euro & Finance


A new study commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) reveals that most MPs (51%) do not believe British Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are ready for Brexit.

Furthermore, just 3% strongly agree with the statement that, “SMEs are well prepared for the UK’s departure from the EU in 2019.”

The study examines MPs views on a wide range of issues relating to the UK’s 5.7m SMEs including exports, tax accountancy and the availability of help and advice.


An incredible 88% believe that SMEs must increase exports if Britain is to fulfil its potential as a trading nation, with just 1% disagreeing.

The news is perhaps less surprising given the UK currently ranks in the bottom five for SME exports according to recent research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Business distractions

A clear majority of MPs (58%) from across the political divide believe that the amount of time and money spent on dealing with the tax system seriously impacts upon SMEs ability to invest and create jobs. In contrast, just 6% disagree.

The role of accountants

On a more positive note, over two thirds of MPs (69%) believe that professional accountants play a vital role in supporting small businesses and helping them to grow. Only 1% disagreed.

ACCA and AAT say there’s strong evidence that accountants are the most trusted and used source of business support amongst UK SMEs. Both bodies are working closely with the government to ensure information and advice is more effectively delivered to the SME community. ACCA for example has a memorandum of understanding with the Department for International Trade (DIT), while AAT has developed Informi, an online portal offering free expert advice to small businesses.

SME support

Both start-ups and those who have been in operation for a number of years need more free and independent information, advice and guidance according to MPs. Almost three quarters (73%) believe this to be the case.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive, AAT said:

‘MP’s views as to whether SMEs are ready for Brexit appear finely balanced, with a narrow majority suggesting they aren’t. However, on other SME related issues, MPs views are much clearer. As this study highlights, Government needs to help reduce the amount of time and money that SMEs invest in dealing with the tax system and professional accountants can play a part in this. AAT has long been aware of the need for additional free, independent help and advice for SMEs, that’s why we established Informi and have helped thousands of SMEs benefit as a result. There is much more to do to help small businesses but we are certainly playing our part.’

Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of ACCA adds:

As we progress toward Brexit, it’s good to see that the majority of MPs acknowledge SMEs will need more support and guidance. We believe the Department of International Trade and UK Export Finance play a crucial role here and a more proactive approach is needed to target smaller firms. We also think a particular focus on start-ups and first time exporters is important and we look forward to continuing our work with government to ensure SMEs are informed and supported during this time of change.’


- ENDS -

For media enquiries please contact:

David Bowden, ACCA Newsroom

T: +44 (0)20 7059 5019

M: + 44 (0)7540919819

Twitter @ACCANews


Jude Obi, Assistant Media Relations Manager, AAT

0207 397 3026


Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  The total sample size was 103 MPs. Fieldwork was undertaken between 04/12/17 and 18/12/17.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of the House of Commons.


About AAT

AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) is the UK’s leading qualification and professional body for technical accountants and bookkeepers, and has over 140,000 members in over 100 countries. We offer a range of qualifications that are open to all regardless of previous education or age, such as the AAT Accounting Qualifications that provide a non-degree route into chartered accountancy, and the AAT Bookkeeping Qualifications that can support business growth through accurate and up-to-date financial records. Students encompass a wide range from school and college leavers, to older people hoping to change their career or learn the skills to run their own business.

An AAT Accountant is a qualified accounting professional with the practical and technical skills needed to support businesses with their accounting activities. Typical job roles of an AAT Accountant include: Financial Accountant, Commercial Analyst, Senior Finance Officer, Payroll Manager, VAT Accountant and Tax Supervisor. An AAT Accountant in the UK can sign off the accounts for small companies that meet two out of three of the criteria of turnover less than £10.2 million, total assets less than £5.1 million and less than 50 employees. Currently over half a million businesses trust AAT Accountants and AAT Bookkeepers to service their accounting requirements.

AAT awards around 90% of all technical qualifications in accounting in the UK, and generous exemptions are provided by many of the senior UK bodies including ACCA, CIPFA, ICAEW, CIMA and ICAS. AAT has been listed in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2017.


About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers 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 supports its 200, 000 members and 480,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 100 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee 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. 

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. 


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Head of EU Affairs

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