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Welsh small businesses exposed to unqualified ‘accountant’ risk

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WELSH small businesses could be inadvertently damaging their growth prospects by paying accountants who aren’t even qualified, warns ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). 

The warning comes after research from cloud accounting software provider ClearBooksPro showed just 8 per cent of small businesses considered an accountant’s qualifications when choosing one. ACCA points out that there is no law preventing anyone from calling themselves an accountant, and that as a result small businesses could be unknowingly paying someone without the necessary skills to handle their finances and help their business grow, who isn’t regulated or insured against risk. There are estimated to be 192,632 SMEs (businesses with up to 249 employees) in Wales, with a total annual turnover of £43.4bn, many of whom could have hired an unqualified accountant. Ben Cottam, head of ACCA Cymru/ Wales said: “Unlike solicitors and some other professional roles, the term accountant is not protected by law, so absolutely anyone can call themselves one, even without any training. Even those with minimal training in book-keeping or just one aspect of accountancy, will not always have the same rigorous qualifications and insurance as a chartered certified accountant. They will also be limited in helping the business grow. “The ClearBooksPro survey showed that 32 per cent of small businesses, when asked what they wanted help with from their accountant, identified business strategy – the largest response to that question. A successful small business accountant (whether it’s an external practitioner or an in-house person) has to perform multiple roles and be able to provide strategic and operational input – it is impossible to get this from an unqualified person who has trained for book-keeping or tax only, because their skill-set is too narrow. “Equally, any business with serious growth potential needs a person who can adapt quickly to their changing management accounting needs, and ideally be able to build and manage a professional finance function. Business growth is never even and rarely goes according to plan, so it’s vital to have the right skills in place early.” ACCA says businesses should check an accountants qualifications before using their services. Ben Cottam said: “If you were employing someone for a job, you would check their qualifications. You should be even more thorough when you are hiring the services of someone who will be at the helm of your business strategy. To be sure you have the right kind of finance professional for your small business who has a wide skill-set the enterprise needs to grow, check they are ACCA qualified.”

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Business

Freeport status ‘key’ to unlocking potential

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FREEPORT status for Pembroke Port could unlock a multitude of employment and economic opportunities for the local area.

That’s the belief of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Senedd candidate Samuel Kurtz.

While freeports are a Westminster policy, the Welsh Government are involved in the process but they have been far from enthusiastic over its potential benefits. 

Commenting, Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “Freeport status for Pembroke Port would turbo charge the recovery of the local economy, helping to boost employment opportunities for people in Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and the local area.
“That fact that the Labour government in Cardiff have sat on their hands over freeports, while England has already announced its freeport locations, shows the party has little regard for helping the economy recover and grow. 
“This is a key policy that shouldn’t be overlooked simply because of party politics. Recovering from the effects of the pandemic needs collaborative work between Cardiff, London and local authorities.”  

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Business

Port of Milford Haven confirms compliance with National Marine Safety Code

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has confirmed its compliance with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).

The confirmation comes following an audit by leading maritime consultants ABPmer.

The Port Marine Safety Code is a national standard that applies to all harbour authorities. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in ports and in the marine environment.

Port of Milford Haven’s Harbourmaster and Marine Director Mike Ryan is proud of the Port’s continued compliance with the Code.

“This is further endorsement and confirmation of everyone’s commitment here at the Port of Milford Haven to providing a safe operation for all port users,” said Mike.

Monty Smedley, ABPmer’s Lead PMSC Auditor, who conducted the audit, said: “I am very pleased to confirm to the Port of Milford Haven’s Board that their harbour operations demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Code, with many examples that we considered to be industry best practice.”

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads PMSC compliance for the UK government said: “The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. The resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The Port of Milford Haven’s Board formally declares its compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code to the MCA every three years.

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Business

Pembrokeshire business encourages others to take advantage of free courses

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IN LIGHT of the recent Welsh Government announcement on the re-opening of the Welsh tourism sector, Wales. A Food Destination is running a number of masterclass sessions tailored for the hospitality sector.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project which specialises in supporting retail and hospitality businesses to source, serve and sell Welsh food and drink through cafes, restaurants, shops, farmers markets, food festivals, B&B’s and tourist attractions.

Throughout April virtual workshop sessions will take place, covering a variety of areas such as local food and drink pairing, breakfast menu inspiration, how to offer the best customer experience possible, through to creating an authentic local eating experience, with a particular focus on sourcing local ingredients.

According to Laura Alexander, co-coordinator for Wales. A Food Destination, the aim is to give a helping hand to those in the sector looking to source, serve and sell Welsh food in a post Covid world,

“It is great that we are able to offer such a diverse range of training opportunities to hospitality businesses in Wales as the sector prepares to re-open. We know that a lot of businesses have been closed for a long time now, and are looking forward to re-opening and refreshing what they have to offer. We are keen to support them with opportunities for learning.

“The masterclass sessions will hopefully assist businesses in recognising how our first rate produce can make their offer even more attractive and help in boosting the sector at such a crucial time.”

One business who have benefitted from attending one of the recent workshops is Melin Tregwynt, based in Haverfordwest.

“It was great to take the time to look at what we can do to prepare for whatever re-opening throws our way this year. Also to be able to access such a brilliant resource of recipes, information and ideas. Thank you to all involved in delivering these courses.”

The good news is that all courses are delivered virtually and are fully funded for any business who sources, serves and sells Welsh food.

For a full list of courses available, please visit https://www.foodskills.cymru/wales-a-food-destination/events/

Wales. A Food Destination project offers fully funded one-to-one consultations, so if you are a retail and hospitality business and are looking for support or advice then please contact Laura Alexander at wales@lantra.co.uk.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project funded by the Welsh Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Its aim is to support businesses source, serve and sell Welsh Food & Drink.

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