Lack of certainty around payment practices, regulation and post-Brexit planning will have a knock-on effect on the UK’s small businesses, according to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
Its verdict on the challenges facing our SMEs could not be clearer: “Small businesses are calling for more certainty, and it’s time for the government to listen.”
Ben Baruch, Head of SME Policy at ACCA, says: “The UK’s 5.5 million small businesses will be one of our greatest assets in maintaining a strong economy and growth prospects following Brexit.
“It’s important that the government looks at the best way to meet the needs of these businesses, allowing them to access finance, invest, export and ultimately grow in the coming months and years.
“Many small businesses rely on their accountant for business support and advice, and our members are seeing a number of common issues affecting the performance of the UK’s small business community.”
While the UK is generally viewed as a good place to do business, ACCA says that small businesses are feeling the burden of excessive, or unclear, regulation.
It points to the second-stage Finance Bill as an example. It was more than 600 pages long and contained a number of retrospective tax measures for businesses.
Baruch adds: “The initial proposals for implementation of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital programme also proved problematic.
“While the objective to digitise and modernise our tax administration is a worthy one, the requirement for quarterly digital updates introduced in a relatively short time period look more likely to drain the resources of small businesses, rather than helping to improve efficiency and productivity.
“The subsequent delay to an incremental rollout is welcome, but we must ensure that the process remains collaborative and responsive to allay concerns and uncertainty.”
Poor payment practice, a subject WNJ continues to highlight, remains a major problem for many small businesses, according to ACCA.
About 30 per cent of payments in the UK are typically late, with 61 per cent of these coming from larger companies. As the organisation rightly points out if small businesses don’t receive payments on time, they are forced to spend time chasing debts rather than growing and investing in their business.
Baruch says: “The appointment of a Small Business Commissioner next month may help some businesses in resolving disputes and complaints over payment matters, but in order to achieve this it’s essential that the process of engaging with the Commissioner is made as simple as possible.
“And if the following first few months prove successful, perhaps there will be scope for the government to expand the remit of the Commissioner in future.
“The development of a coherent approach to business support under a single institution could bring much needed benefits to small businesses and help stimulate wider productivity gains across the UK economy.”
To discuss any of these issues that may be affecting your business, please contact me on 01772 430000.