This morning (18/9/2020), the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) co-hosted a panel discussion with the Small Business Minister, Paul Scully (pictured), to coincide with the publication of the FLA’s Comprehensive Spending Review submission.
The following is a report from the FLA about the meeting:
FLA/ACCA Roundtable with the Small Business Minister
Mr Scully recognised that FLA members had a crucial role to play in the nation’s economic recovery.
John Phillipou (Paragon Bank) highlighted the importance of maintaining a mix of bank and non-bank lending to business, emphasising the local knowledge that the latter often had. He also warned of a potential cliff-edge in month 13 when the repayment of CBILS loans would begin.
Enterprise Finance Guarantee
Chairing the event, Stephen Haddrill, director general of the FLA, urged the Government to learn from existing support schemes and adapt them, citing the need to re-launch the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme to build on CBILS.
He also called for liquidity support for non-bank lenders who played a vital part in funding UK SMEs, a point reinforced by FLA members in the Q&A. The Minister promised to take this away to HM Treasury.
The ACCA representatives stressed the need to strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) to tackle late payments and Government funding to underpin advice and mentoring for SMEs, three-quarters of which had not adapted their financial plans during the pandemic.
The Minister said that that Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would consult on the SBC’s powers (to which the FLA will respond).
He paid tribute to the work of the British Business Bank (BBB) which had taken on a “front of house” role in operating the Government’s Covid-19 support schemes.
Mr Scully foresaw an even bigger role in progressing the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
Turning to the net-zero emissions challenge, Stephen Haddrill highlighted the importance of finance to facilitate the roll-out of cleaner vehicles, suggesting that the Government could use the capital allowances regime to support this.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) spoke of the importance of incentivising low emission vehicles (e.g. with the appropriate charging infrastructure) in a manageable way that did not inadvertently damage the internal combustion engine market.
He added that a long-term approach to taxes and incentives was essential to provide certainty for businesses and their customers – which struck a chord with many in the audience.
Points raised from the floor included the need for plug-in grants for non-car commercial vehicles, which the Minister described as “sensible”, and for a strategy which included hydrogen technology, which he said the Government was already considering.