Come on Cameron, cut out the accounting commentary

by Kevin Reed

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08 May 2012

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DAVID CAMERON SEEMS UNHAPPY at his government's actions being compared to that of accountants.

On a couple of occasions, most notably in the Telegraph this weekend, Cameron said that the government needs to change the perception that it is a bunch of number jockeys trying to improve a set of financials, whatever the cost to the people involved.

Not wanting to be viewed as simply looking to turn around an ailing company actually made it sound like he was having more of a dig at insolvency practitioners than accountants as such - but that's merely an aside.

Throw in George Osborne's uncalled-for reference during the Budget to accountants helping people avoid tax, and I get the feeling that their schizophrenic anti/pro-financial services rhetoric has spread to the number-crunchers.

It's a shame, as the profession does a hell of a lot of work advising politicians. Some of this is lobbying, of course, or currying favour. But it would be hard to describe this current parliament as financially- or business-literate. Career politicians abound.

And this is before we take into account the efforts of the Office of Tax Simplification, headed by the CioT's John Whiting, or the efforts of the vast majority of advisors who do a lot of the donkey work on behalf of HMRC to bring in taxes.

ICAEW chief Michael Izza wrote a letter to Cameron pointing some of these points out. That's good, but it should just be a start.

Rather than the ICAEW leverage the issue to push its Business Advice Centre service, the whole of the profession should instead group together under umbrella body the CCAB.

The group, which represents the UK institutes (bar, controversially, CIMA) is surely made for this kind of thing. Let's face it; it's used few and far between to publically represent its members.

You could of course take matters into your own hands and follow the route taken by accounting commentator Ken Frost and others, who tweeted @number10gov to ‘stop this nonsense'.

Kevin Reed is editor of Accountancy Age

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