The government’s SBS has been evaluating whether consultants working with its local Business Links outlets should be required to undergo a third party accreditation irrespective of any professional qualification that they might already hold.
Over the last 12 months there has been an extensive lobbying effort by parties proposing external accreditation and a range of professional and trade bodies opposing them.
APG members have put forward a sustained case over the last three years, that the external accreditation procedures required by many existing Business Links are of debatable validity, duplicate many aspects of the profession’s own regulatory procedures and should not be applied to professionally qualified accountants and other equivalent professionals.
Although members in practice will not be required to undertake separate accreditation or assessment to participate in Business Link consultancy contracts, there will be conditions.
These include agreeing to a Code of Practice – which the SBS is preparing – and participating in a process of consultancy customer satisfaction review.
ACCA head of small business, David Harvey, said: ‘This move by David Irwin underscores the key nature of the accountant/business link relationship in ensuring that the new Business Links reach out to a far wider proportion of the business community than before.
‘Accountants should be the eyes and ears of Business Links, spotting businesses needing help in areas outside of the profession’s competencies.’
He added: ‘For the profession we hope that better networks with Business Links will provide new business opportunities and access to a vast range of non-financial and practice skills from design, to marketing to HR. Both sides should benefit, most of SME clients should benefit.’