A recent survey by Chartered Accountants Ireland, which garnered the opinions of nearly 2,000 of their members, found that liquidity and cashflow were two of the major concerns to businesses in Northern Ireland post-pandemic. And a third of the respondents believed that they needed an overhaul of their business to once again be competitive after the lockdown period.
Calls For Changes To Company Law
The key points in the survey can be found on the Chartered Accountants IE website, here are some of those points copied below:
SMEs, have highlighted specific measures that can help in the period ahead, including:
- One in four called for changes to company law to give businesses greater flexibility to navigate unprecedented circumstances like a pandemic —
- Almost half of those working in practice called for greater leniency on filing deadlines, interest and penalties
- Digital transformation is a priority for 1 in 4 businesses post-Covid, with calls for accompanying digitalisation of government services
- Longer term business supports post-Covid and the use of VAT rate decreases as short-term stimulus were raised by 28 percent of members, rising to 39 percent of those in practice.
The proposals include an emphasis on digitalisation and ensuring government services and supports keep pace with changing business models post-pandemic, and the realities of operating as an SME at this time. These include: –
Remote working has been one of the most visible signs of change since March. Many workers are now trusted to work productively from home where possible; and it is now acceptable to hold significant business meetings online. Chartered Accountants Ireland calls for the momentum to be maintained by increased support for the education and adoption of digital competencies across the business community through increased grant-funded programmes.
Government must also play its part in supporting digitalisation, namely:
- full digitalisation of CRO services including the acceptance of electronic signatures and the electronic filing of documents to relieve the administrative burden and speed up processing,
- changes to the Companies Act to allow all companies to hold virtual AGMs,
- changes to the Companies Act to allow creditors meetings to be held by telephone and/or video conferencing,
- full automation of the professional services withholding tax system so that the record of the tax withheld is generated in electronic format and automatically issued to Revenue,
- pledge by Revenue to provide a MyEnquiries query response rate of five working days.
Other Key Proposals Include
- extension of filing deadline for accounts due for 31 October to 31 December 2020 to 31 January 2021,
- increase of the examinership period to 150 days,
- simplification of existing support and funding schemes, especially those aimed at the SME sector, which are too onerous and complex to administer,
- push by Government for increased share of the €750 billion EU Recovery and Resilience Fund to deliver grant support to the hospitality, tourism, leisure and retail sectors.
There are some very good points and recommendations above. Businesses in Northern Ireland know what is required to get the country back on its feet again and with help from the government and the implementation of helpful legislation hopefully the vast majority of those will survive and indeed thrive in the months and years to come.