Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

New European legislation may have a negative impact on small businesses

Brian McGuire

Question : I'm the owner of a small business and I'm concerned about new European legislation which is designed to mitigate against future financial crises. What can you tell me?

Brian McGuire of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) said:

Answer: The new legislation is likely to further reduce lending to small and medium sized enterprises in Northern Ireland and across the UK. We have set out our concerns in a new discussion paper, Basel III and SMEs: Framing the debate.

While the need for a new framework is recognised by all, both regulators and the banking industry have warned that Basel III will have a disproportionately negative impact on SMEs' access to finance. ACCA has stated that an impact assessment is needed into how negative this will be and in what ways, which remains unclear.

The assessments we've seen so far are rigorous, but they lack detail about the impact of Basel III on SMEs. We have to remember that SMEs are the lifeblood of economies.

While we don't expect to get a definitive answer from an impact assessment, we definitely need more detail so we can understand the situation more fully.

We know lenders have a limited number of options and there are ways of anticipating, from the characteristics of some lenders, their customers and the industries they work in, and which ones they will utilise. It is possible, with the right information, to map out how Basel III will be implemented in small business lending, and the impact it will have.

ACCA will discuss the issues around this legislation with its global network of stakeholders before developing a second, more detailed paper later in 2011.

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