Chartered accountants are calling on other professionals to back a new £20 million loan fund for stricken MG Rover suppliers.

The fund urgently needs support from bankers, lawyers and others if it is to be set up in time to protect some of the thousands of suppliers' jobs, which are at risk following the car maker's collapse.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has welcomed plans for a fund to help viable businesses to survive the oneoff cash crisis caused by MG Rover's failure.

But it says the fund, originally proposed by the institute two years ago, needs the backing of professionals.

Eric Anstee, ICAEW chief executive, said: "We have pledged our support and several of our members are actively involved in establishing this fund. We urge people in banking and law, in particular, to join us in this worthwhile attempt to limit the damage caused by the loss of MG Rover."

Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands wants to establish a £20 million transition loan fund next week to help companies hit by MG Rover's collapse, and an emergency scheme is now being put in place.

It will be made up of a private sector consortium of chartered accountants, bankers and others.

Mr Anstee said: "We have indicated that the institute is happy to play a full part in this. We are supporting AWM's appeal for support from the other professional services in the West Midlands, especially the banking sector which has a lot to gain from the proposed scheme."

The fund will be available to any supplier with a viable business plan where Rover represented 15 per cent or more of its turnover, and loans are likely to be for a maximum of three years.

About 600 Rover suppliers are believed to be owed a total of £200 million.

Between 5 , 000 and 12,500 jobs are thought to be at risk outside the car-maker itself, in addition to the 5,000 jobs that have already been lost at Longbridge.

Chartered accountants in the West Midlands have been active in trying to limit the damage across the region.

As soon as administrators were appointed, the institute set up a help-line for companies in the Rover supply chain.

AWM is advising Rover suppliers to turn to their accountants for help. Corporate recovery advisers are also working with Accelerate, the Government agency based at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce to assist supplychain companies.