Coalition must “Save Love” for SMEs

An influential committee of small business experts calls today for quick action to establish a recovery plan for the country’s 4.8m Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

ACCA’s (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) SME Committee is an independent forum of entrepreneurs, accounting practitioners, academic researchers, bankers and finance experts. Its membership includes the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Forum of Private Business (FPB), the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME).

ACCA which provides secretarial support to the Committee, believes it to be the widest and most important non-governmental forum for small business interests in the country.

In its report, Accelerating Recovery: promoting the SME sector’s role in rebuilding prosperity in the UK, the Committee has published a series of proposals for the new Government, which it believes will help accelerate the recovery of SMEs and the wider UK economy.

Importantly, this advice is light on subsidy and built on consensus rather than compromise. Professor Francis Chittenden, Chair of the Committee, explains:

“We believe these proposals represent our best chance of enabling the SME sector to play its role in the return to sustained economic growth. This document should be read by every existing and potential Member of Parliament.”

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, says:

“If the country is to get through the recovery period, the Government must not ignore small businesses that are keen to grow and take on more staff. Small firms want a clear robust plan put in place that shows how the Government will deal with the deficit without placing further taxation burdens on them at a time when recovery is fragile. Underlying issues between the banks and small businesses and access to finance and credit are still major issues and the Government must put pressure on the banks to lend to viable small firms so they can get on with the job at hand. If small firms are to grow and develop, the Government must think small first.”

The Committee’s manifesto in brief

  • Maintaining the momentum: The recession has turned policymakers’ attention to SMEs. This focus must be embedded in the machinery of government
  • Reforming business support: A medium-term strategy is needed to cut waste in business support through the use of trusted private sector advisers
  • Getting the facts right: SMEs are extremely diverse. The government must appreciate this and do its homework before designing or evaluating policy
  • Credit (and equity) where it’s due: past levels of lending were not sustainable; SMEs need reliable access to more diverse finance, including equity
  • Regulating with small business in mind: SMEs need Better Regulation: better impact assessments, regulators and guidance, and closer EU co-ordination
  • Investing in enterprise: The Government must encourage self-employment and divert some of its misused skills funding to budding entrepreneurs
  • Simple tax, clear incentives: A programme of tax simplification is long overdue, but will require clarity on the incentives that tax is meant to provide
  • Seizing opportunity: The Government needs to assist the internationalisation of UK SMEs, starting with support in the EU’s internal market.

For full details download the PDF Accelerating Recovery: promoting the SME sector’s role in rebuilding prosperity in the UK.

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