Membership bodies, representing around 300,000 members from market researchers and accountants to optometrists, osteopaths and physiotherapists have joined forces to call for financial support for members overlooked for Government support.
These self-employed professionals and small businesses provide services which have been badly impacted by the pandemic but are struggling to access any of the existing schemes.
Each one of the 17 organisations has spent the weeks since lockdown speaking with its members and voicing their concerns at the highest levels of government. But, although the disciplines involved are diverse, the core issues affecting them are the same and the solutions for government relatively straightforward.
That’s why the groups decided to join forces to send a strong and united message to the chancellor.
The letter, signed by Andrew Harding, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, calls for the Government to allow directors of SMEs access to either the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), to expedite the process of delivering funds under SEISS before it is due to go live in June, and to make the process of accessing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs) a smoother one.
“All of our organisations are hearing reports that many SMEs are being asked to put up personal assets to secure CBILs by the banks,” it says.
“Furthermore, the banks are taking too long to provide loans or forcing SME owners to take out overdrafts instead. We would like to see the banks putting more resources into approving these loans quicker and we believe that the Government has a role to play in this by increasing its guarantee to 100 per cent for loans for SMEs under £250,000.”
It concludes: “Our organisations want SMEs across the UK, including our members, to survive this crisis and be ready to help build the country’s financial recovery. In order to do this, they face the immediate challenge of surviving the next few months.”
Among the other signatories were Alastair McCapra, CEO, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Jane Frost CEO, Market Research Society and Martin Woodrow, Chief Executive, British Dental Association.