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14 September 2017

ACCA: Policy and regulatory uncertainty a large problem for small business

A lack of certainty around payment practices, regulation and post-Brexit planning will have a knock-on effect for the UK’s small businesses, says ACCA.

Ben Baruch, Head of SME Policy at ACCA, said:

‘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 notes that small businesses are feeling the burden of excessive, or unclear, regulation.

‘Last week’s second-stage Finance Bill, for example, which was over 600 pages long, contained a number of retrospective tax measures  which businesses are required to adhere to from 1 April 2017, before they have actually been enacted to law,’ added Baruch.

‘This has added to a general sense of confusion around current and upcoming tax legislation, which has impacted the confidence and growth ambitions of many smaller businesses.’

‘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 is a major problem for many small businesses. About 30 per cent of payments in the UK are typically late, with 61 per cent of these coming from larger companies. When small businesses don’t receive payments on time, they are forced to spend time chasing debts rather than growing and investing in their business.

Full press release

© ACCA - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

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