The UK’s Small Business Commissioner, the professional Accountancy Body, ACCA and Ulster University have held a round table event with financial professionals to gain a better understanding of the challenges that SMEs face and to discuss the supports they need.
While SMEs are the heartbeat of the business sector in Northern Ireland accounting for *60% of private sector employment with over 330,000 jobs and turnover of £36.6 billion, they are particularly exposed to the current economic environment.
With costs increasing and access to finance tightening considerably, small businesses in Northern Ireland will face very significant challenges in the months ahead in managing their cash flow which is crucial to their long term viability. Areas that the roundtable event explored included payment practices, small firms’ cash flow, access to finance and other areas of support that are needed in the cost of doing business crisis, as well as the importance and value of using a professionally qualified advisor.
Commenting on the event Liz Barclay Small Business Commissioner said, “As we face into a challenging period ahead for small business, we want to listen to their challenges and to help develop solutions that will support this critical sector in maintaining and growing its contribution to jobs, innovation and prosperity, which is so crucial to the Northern Ireland economy.”
Caitriona Allis, Head of ACCA Ireland added, “Our members have their fingers on the pulse, working closely with thousands of SMEs across Northern Ireland, supporting their financial management and helping them sustain and grow their businesses. With inflation, cost of borrowing and supply chain costs all rising many businesses are under pressure. It is for these reasons that it is important that there is collaborative support to help provide solutions and opportunities for businesses, and I commend the Small Business Commissioner for its continued commitment to help Northern Ireland SMEs.”