News in Brief – 15 July

Bug gets ready to bite

Six local councils face ‘severe risk of material disruption’ from year 2000 computer failures, according to the latest Audit Commission figures. Charnwood, Restormel and Rugby borough councils and the district councils of Warwick, Hart and East Northamptonshire were deemed to be preparing ‘less well’ for the millennium bug.

Offshore opportunity The UK could bolster its position as a leading European centre for managing ‘offshore’ investment funds by exempting non-residents from inheritance tax, according to KPMG. Abolition of advance corporation tax and the new open ended investment company structure helped to give the UK better expense ratios than Luxembourg, Dublin and the Channel Islands. But some of the negative features could be corrected ‘at no real tax cost’, according to KPMG.

Counting on consultation About 80% of council finance directors believe community consultation should be an important consideration when setting budgets, according to the Audit Commission. But the same group has admitted in a Commission report that such considerations are absent in 50% of cases in practice.

APB updates interim guidance The Auditing Practices Board has updated its guidance on auditors’ review of interim financial information, and reiterated its call for compulsory review by auditors of interim reports before issue.

Honours students for English ICA Almost 600 of the 4,000 graduates signing up for the English ICA’s qualification programme obtained first-class honours degrees, the institute revealed this week. Graduates make up 95% of the ICA’s intake – a similar figure to last year – and the number of women students rose slightly to 43%.

Exporters expect worst British exporters are set to discover which products will be hit by a 100% tariff in the US as the trade war intensifies. The World Trade Organisation has given permission for the US and Canada to impose a punitive 100% import tax on a list of goods exported from the EU.

Fraudbusters into action The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate and the Accounts Commission for Scotland have signed a formal agreement to coordinate their work in fighting fraud. Last year, £4m of fraud was detected by councils in Scotland.

Union backs Burn The GMB union is taking issue with a mortgage watchdog body over the sacking of its member and whistleblower Monty Burn who exposed scams perpetrated by mortgage advisers and brokers. The union has given its backing to the case of a whistleblower being sacked for attempting to protect Britain’s 11 million mortgage holders and consumers who were being ripped-off.

PwC goes in at IWG PricewaterhouseCoopers has been appointed as liquidator of the multimillion-pound London-based investment management services company IWG Services and its sister company, IG Services. Total investment with IWG is around £306m. The company suspended payments to investors on or around 25 June.

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