DTI sparks open season on licences

Rival licensing bodies appeared to be manoeuvring for position to pick up those unwilling to pay the new rates, which came into effect in April.

The DTI has raised the cost of its licence by a remarkable 1,900%, from £100 to £2,000. It claimed that the increase was necessary ‘to cover the cost of the administration process’.

The ICAEW has already reacted by opening its doors wider to non-members, and the ACCA and ICAS have told Accountancy Age they may soon follow suit.

Until recently, rival licensing bodies had refused to authorise non-members or placed strict limitations on who could apply. But with all the major players now considering a more open policy, the link between membership and licensing could soon give way to a free market.

The institute said it had so far received transfer of licences from 20 DTI practitioners, though the number could rise sporadically as renewal dates come up. ‘The DTI has welcomed the choice offered to practitioners as a result of the institute’s initiative,’ it added.

David Harrison, of the Insolvency Practices Council, suggested such ‘open-door’ licensing could pave the way for an end to the DTI’s role as a domestic licensing body. ‘We always said that the “regulator of regulators” should not be involved,’ he said.

But the DTI denied the move was an attempt to wind down its licensing role. ‘It just reflects that the work we have been doing in regulation has changed,’ said a spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, Moorgate Place has ruffled feathers among practitioners who believe an invitation it extended to non-members to apply for its licence amounted to poaching. Harrison said: ‘I do not think everyone liked the chartered accountants for doing it, but they stole a march on the rest.’

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