New £20m government grant covers accountancy feesby
In an effort to help businesses in England recover from the effects of the pandemic, new grants have been announced for small and medium-sized businesses to access specialist professional advice such as accountancy services.
Announced at the end of July, the grants range from £1,000 to £5,000 from a government pot of £20m. They will be available to business seeking professional advice from accountants along with HR, legal, financial, IT and digital specialists.
The grant is supported by the England European Regional Development Fund and can also be used by small businesses to adopt new technology or to purchase minor equipment in order to continue business activity or needs be, to diversify.
Businesses can apply for the funds through the local growth hub in their Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area. Although the funds are limited, each LEP has been allocated a minimum of £250,000 to establish the grant programme. A network of 38 growth hubs are dotted across the country and partnered with the likes of the Chambers of Commerce, FSB, universities, enterprise zones and banks.
Tory MP Simon Clarke, the minister for regional growth and local government, said access to expert advice will help businesses adapt, recover and rebuild.
“Small and medium sized businesses are the beating heart of communities; they provide employment and contribute significantly to local economies and we are determined to give them the support they need to continue to thrive,” he said.
A look on AccountingWEB and the benefits of having accounting advice such as cashflow planning and management and business support during the Covid-19 era are self-evident. In the initial stages of the virus, accountants like Glenn Martin, Andy Sullivan and Zoe Whitman explained on the No Accounting for Taste podcast how they advised their crisis-hit clients through potential cashflow problems. While on Any Answers, we've heard stories of accountants rushing to their clients' sides and working around the clock to support them throughout the pandemic.
As the economy picks up and the government support dries up, the new grant will help businesses adapt to the medium-term circumstances, rather responding to the initial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Accountant Ria-Jaine Lincoln flagged the new grant during this week’s Any Answers Live session and commented: “Many clients need cashflow and professional advice more now than ever, but simply do not have the funds, so [the grants] may be helpful to cover accountancy fees and other professional services.”
As redundancies become a reality and the need for HR advice increases, or companies turn to more digital alternative business models, the professional service grant could even extend beyond clients and help “those innovating due to lockdown to keep business afloat – accountants included,” noted Lincoln.
Other government support
This advice fund is the latest in a sequence of Covid crisis initiatives announced by the government. The latest rush came after the Chancellor’s summer statement, which brought us the Kickstart Scheme to spearhead employment for young people, the VAT 5% hospitality cut and ‘eat out to help out’ restaurant discount vouchers.
Prior to that, businesses have been able to claim grants such business rates holidays or support grants and the flagship schemes like the self-employed income support grant.
This article was amended on 14 August to add more detail of the support accountants gave their clients during the initial stages of the coronavirus lockdown.