Rural firms facing threat to fees

Andrew Shepherd, partner in Scotland-based WD Johnston & Carmichael, warned: ‘The ripple just keeps going out. Tourism is taking an absolute hammering. And if more ancillary industries are hit, then accountants will suffer.’

Accountants in the worst hit areas are already starting to feel the pinch.

Richard Platt, of Grainger & Platt in Cumbria, told Accountancy Age: ‘A client called the other day and told me he wasn’t going to be able to pay because he was advised to pay only the bare essentials and we’re not considered essential. And he’s not a farmer, he’s in the tourist industry.’

Sole practitioner Deirdre Grant, said: ‘I can tell you the crisis has affected pubs. Farmers are not coming out of their farms at the moment so they’re not supporting their pubs and retailers. Rural pubs depend on farmers to support them through the wintertime’.

The ACCA member, who lives in an exclusion zone, said her town in Cumbria is a ghost town, and ‘every country pursuit has stopped.’

Although they are not being affected immediately, rural accountants are readying themselves for the crunch to come.

Grenville Johnston, president of ICAS and also a WD Johnston & Carmichael partner, said: ‘We have 1,500 farming clients out of a total of 6,000. Come summertime we’re going to be faced with client problems. And worse problems will come in the autumn.’

Accountants say the best thing they can do for clients is to negotiate with banks on their behalf, suggest alternative income sources and help with advice on how to avoid taxes if they are entitled to compensation.


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