Reports reveal SME balance sheet blight ahead of International Accounting Day

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Lost paperwork has led to small businesses missing tax deadlines, while one in three because they’ve not used an accountant, according to two new studies.

The studies, which explore the extent of the nation’s SME balance sheet blight, are published ahead of International Accounting Day this Sunday (10 Nov).

British small business accountant use is higher than the global average (41.1%), but one in three (33.87%) “share their physical financial documents by post or dropping them off to their accountant” – higher than the global average of 28.7%.

The research of 917 SMEs was conducted for digital bookkeeping platform, Receipt Bank, by Censuswide across eight countries (Australia, France, Germany, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA).

A quarter of UK SMBs (27.78%) are still using “a physical book” to record their business finances, higher slightly than the global average of 27.13% (Censuswide).

At the same time a Populus poll of 527 small British businesses commissioned by Receipt Bank reveals a quarter (27%) have missed a tax deadline with one in three (34%) putting off their financial admin to the last minute.

Nearly one in five (18%) admit to not processing all of their tax-deductible paperwork with the taxman, while one in six (16%) remain wholly reliant on paper returns, resisting a move to cloud-based accounting technology (Populus research for Receipt Bank).

The report also found that a third of all UK SMEs (34%) believe dealing with financial admin prevents them from focusing on growing their business.

With half (50%) confirming that they do not enjoy processing receipts, and over a third (38%) saying that processing financial paperwork and invoices creates stress for them. Over a fifth (21%) said financial management and reporting deadlines have kept them up at night.

It’s financial paperwork which causes the most stress for SMEs, with 38% indicating this to be the case. This figure was highest amongst medium sized businesses, where over half (52%) of respondents made the claim.