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ICAEW continues COVID-19 dialogue with Business Secretary

30 March 2020: Michael Izza, ICAEW’s Chief Executive, was part of a major conference call with Business Secretary Alok Sharma to discuss support for the Professional and Business Services sector during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for Business and Industry, were interested to hear about the impact the Government’s interventions have had so far. They were also keen to receive feedback from business leaders about what more the Government could do to help the sector. 
Michael used the opportunity to ask for further clarification around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as many businesses are trying to understand what they may be eligible for. He also asked that the Government view this scheme as dynamic and open to improvement as businesses begin making applications. The Secretary of State assured him that the Government was working on this issue. 
Michael also welcomed the joint announcement made yesterday from the FCA, FRC and PRA which should help banks keep loans flowing, having raised IFRS 9 on the same conference call the previous week, and stressed the importance of protecting the supply chain through businesses paying their suppliers.
Issues raised by other attendees included the possibility of further regulatory easements as those announced so far have helped significantly. The importance of businesses paying their suppliers on time to support the supply chain and protect SMEs was also emphasised 
The Secretary of State ended the call by asking attendees to keep feeding into his Department. In particular, he was keen to receive suggestions of regulatory easements which could be introduced to help businesses during this crisis. The Secretary of State also asked for a further phone call in the coming days.
Commenting on the meeting, Michael said: “With a number of other business leaders, I had a good meeting with Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State. I am impressed with Government's determination to do what's necessary to protect employment and prosperity, and at the way in which different parts of Whitehall – BEIS, HM Treasury, HMRC, Department of International Trade, DWP and the regulators – are joining up to do that. 
“Both the support for the self-employed announced last night and the Job Retention Scheme, the details of which came out today are huge interventions which will do much to sustain confidence in business and society. Of course, serious gaps still remain in the coverage, and some of those will be very hard to address, but ICAEW will continue to flag those up to Ministers and to work with their departments to find, develop and implement solutions.” 
For the latest news, insights and guidance for accountants on the COVID-19 outbreak, visit ICAEW’s dedicated Coronavirus Hub.