News in brief - 29 July
Committee looks at costs
Plans to restore MPs’ grip on government spending have been proposed by the Commons Procedure Committee to take advantage of information available on Whitehall’s switch to resource accounting and budgeting. Under the proposals, committees will be given the duty of crawling over annual reports, accounts and expenditure proposals and reporting to the Commons with a motion for approval, amendments or rejection. Committees will be given financial staff, with secondees from the National Audit Office, for expertise. TEFL set for VAT rebates QQ]Schools teaching English as a foreign language will get VAT rebates of hundreds of thousands of pounds after Customs & Excise lost an Appeal Court case last week. In the case involving Pilgrims Limited, advised by Deloitte & Touche, VAT exemption was extended to more services provided by the schools.TEFL set for VAT rebates
The government unveiled proposals to establish a commercially-run organisation to lead efforts to improve investment in public services using private sources. Announcing its response to Sir Malcolm Bates’ PFI review, the Treasury confirmed the successor to its taskforce – Partnerships UK – would be a privatised project manager. It will design and negotiate projects and finance bidding costs. Police claim VAT on cars
The government unveiled proposals to establish a commercially-run organisation to lead efforts to improve investment in public services using private sources. Announcing its response to Sir Malcolm Bates’ PFI review, the Treasury confirmed the successor to its taskforce – Partnerships UK – would be a privatised project manager. It will design and negotiate projects and finance bidding costs. More E&Y lay-offs
Ernst & Young has confirmed it is sacking over a quarter of its insolvency partners and a fifth of its SAP software practice. A spokeswoman denied redundancies were part of a restructuring programme. News of the ten redundancies from the SAP practice followed the revelation that eight insolvency partners were to be axed after the firm’s corporate finance department absorbed its insolvency business.
Local authority auditors will be required to examine standards of conduct for probity and propriety under high-level changes mooted for the Audit Commission’s Code of Audit Practice.
The code, which defines the scope and form of local audits, is going through its regular five-yearly revamp. The changes are designed to take into account the expanded role the commission will have under the government’s best value regime. ICI job losses
ICI has confirmed accounting and finance posts are among 600 job losses it announced last week. A spokesman said the cuts were in line with a reduction in the size of the chemicals giant. Freeserve shares soar
Nicholas Backhouse, chief financial officer of Freeserve, the UK’s largest Internet service provider, saw his shares and options rise by 37% to close at 205.5p on the first day of trading in the company’s newly floated shares. He is understood to have £500,000 of shares and stock options in Freeserve, which is owned by Dixons. The share options are on top of Backhouse’s salary of £140,000. Partnership Bill date
The government is committed to introducing a Limited Liability Partnership Bill, trade and industry secretary Ian McCartney said this week. Publishing the draft Bill and consultation document, McCartney said it would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time would permit. As predicted by Accountancy Age, it is not expected before the autumn. The Bill is expected to remove the threat of firms registering off-shore to take advantage of LLP laws in jurisdictions like Jersey.