More SMEs are changing their credit terms with their suppliers due to Covid-19, finds the latest results from the ACCA UK and The Corporate Finance Network (The CFN) SME Health Tracker.

The survey of accountants, representing nearly 19,000 SME clients, also shows that the current business environment of opening up is slowly easing the intense strain on anxious SMEs – 69% of accountants reported their SME clients had shared feelings of being more stressed and anxious than usual, compared to a Tracker high of 75% last week.

This week’s Tracker reveals a new pressure on SMEs – managing their credit terms with suppliers. 32% are changing their terms, a necessity at this time due to concerns about the financial stability of their customers and to protect liquidity in their own business.

The results which closed on the 16 June also show:

  • 2.9% of SMEs say they’ve decided to liquidate their business.
  • 15% say they feel that social distancing requirements as they currently stand will make it impossible/ unviable to reopen their business – compared to 12% last week. This is a sign of reality kicking in for many SMEs.

Kirsty McGregor, founder of The CFN network comments: ‘Altering credit terms needs to be handled very carefully to balance the equation of protecting relationships while also ensuring cash flow is more secure. SMEs often have a delicate supply chain and this has become all the more fragile due to Covid-19. This is the reality of where SMEs are right now – it’s a way to protect a business’s cashflow and liquidity and is an indication of loans not working for some.’

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK adds: ‘Tracking the wellbeing of SME owners has been sobering. Accountants are hearing first-hand from their SME clients about their concerns and fears, and while we’ve seen a decline in sentiment this week, the feedback is still alarming. We predict this will fluctuate in coming weeks as SMEs experience the reality of what unlocking truly means for them and the UK economy.’

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