Protecting the jobs of the one million people working in Ireland’s SME sector must be a national priority, says Áine Collins, president of the accountancy body CPA Ireland.
The former Fine Gael TD for Cork North West has called on the government to prioritise an ‘SME-led recovery’ within its post-pandemic enterprise plans. She cites access to cash flow and accelerated digital transformation as priorities.
“The absolute imperative is securing cash flow for businesses and ensuring grants are fit for purpose,” said Ms Collins, a qualified CPA accountant and director of Blueprint Consulting, where she gives businesses strategic advice.
“The second area is supporting digital transformation in businesses of all sizes through training, and the third priority should be supporting entrepreneurs, the backbone of the economy, by reducing the CGT burden on small and family businesses.
“Over one million people get up each day and work in SMEs across the entire country. They have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors. CPA Ireland’s members support over 100,000 SMEs in Ireland, throughout my CPA presidency I will be calling on government to put SMEs front and centre of their recovery policies.”
A recent survey of CPA Ireland members revealed:
- The pandemic has had a negative impact on the business of 73% of CPAs.
- The majority (59%) have not seen any improvement in recent months, while one in five has reported further deterioration.
- 61% of CPAs remain concerned about the economic outlook. In addition to the direct pressures of the pandemic two in five (41%) are now citing difficulty getting paid by clients as a main challenge.
- Áine Collins said: “The government acted swiftly and have maintained very good supports for businesses throughout this pandemic, with 80% of CPAs believing the current supports are appropriate. However, it is equally apparent that these are not being communicated clearly. Two out of five CPAs state that communication with SMEs has been ‘insufficient’.
“As restrictions ease, hopefully for the final time, we need to understand what supports will be in place. The crisis arrived almost overnight, but it will not disappear nearly as quickly. The government need to address this communications deficit and tell SMEs what support will be in place today but also over the next three to five years. This is required to allow businesses plan accordingly.”
- PHOTO: Áine Collins, newly elected president of CPA Ireland and director of Blueprint Consulting.